Switching to Smokeless Tobacco Cuts Smokers Health Risks

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New York, NY -- October, 2006. Smokeless tobacco use is a much-ignored means of reducing the overwhelming health risks of smoking. In a new publication, Helping Smokers Quit: A Role for Smokeless Tobacco?, physicians and scientists associated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) point out that the public health establishment has misled smokers about the benefits and risks of substituting smokeless tobacco for cigarettes.

Despite using all the currently approved quitting methods, only a small minority of smokers who try to quit are successful each year. According to ACSH, smokers who can’t quit don’t realize that although the nicotine in cigarettes is the substance that makes them addictive, it is not the constituent of tobacco that causes lung cancer or the myriad of other diseases that afflict long-time smokers. When smokers switch from using cigarettes as a nicotine source to one that does not involve inhaling the thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke, the potential health harms are significantly reduced. Yet most health agencies and anti-smoking activists continue to advise smokers that their only choices are to quit tobacco use completely -- or suffer the serious health consequences. Smokeless tobacco use is rarely even mentioned as a possible harm reduction strategy.

Helping Smokers Quit: A Role for Smokeless Tobacco? describes both traditional and modern smokeless tobacco products and explains the rationale for their use. The fact that there is strong epidemiologic evidence supporting the low health risks of smokeless tobacco, clearly delineated in this report, will undoubtedly come as a surprise to many health professionals and laymen alike.

"Modern smokeless tobacco products are a far cry from the old images of tobacco 'chaws' and unsanitary spittoons," states ACSH president Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. "These products," she continues, "can be used unobtrusively and have been shown to significantly lower the harm associated with smoking tobacco."

Dr. Gilbert Ross, ACSH Medical and Executive Director, added that "The medical establishment must be educated about the potential benefits of smokeless tobacco for the inveterate smoker. The majority of smokers have difficulty quitting tobacco use completely, and current cessation aids are approved for only limited periods of time. Physicians should advise their smoking patients that there are other products available that could be used as satisfactory substitutes, and that might be another method to help them quit tobacco use."

This report is available online at http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.1403/pub_detail.asp

Gilbert Ross 212-362-7044 Ext.242 rossg@acsh.org
Elizabeth Whelan 212-362-7044 whelane@acsh.org

The American Council on Science and Health is an independent, non-profit consumer education organization concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment and health. For more information visit http://www.acsh.org or http://HealthFactsandFears.com