FDA Denies Modified Risk Tobacco Product Status For Snus

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The Food and Drug Administration told Swedish Match that its snus tobacco product will not receive a MRTP designation, as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product. Snus, a small packet of moist tobacco used orally, is popular in Sweden, which has a substantially lower rate of cigarette-related death and disability than other European Union nations.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has informed Swedish Match, the makers of the snus tobacco product, that the product will not be designated as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product - MRTP. Last year, the FDA Center for Tobacco Products reviewed the "pre-market tobacco application" for snus and approved its continued sale in the U.S because the company showed it contains lower levels of harmful constituents than other smokeless products on sale in the United States. Had the MRTP application been successful, it would have allowed the Swedish Match company to change its label from reading "This product is not a safe alternative to smoking" to "No tobacco product is safe, but this product presents substantially lower risks to health than cigarettes."

Snus is essentially a small packet of moist tobacco placed in the mouth. It is a popular product in Sweden and that country has a substantially lower rate of cigarette-related death and disability than other countries in the European Union, where such smoking cessation and harm reduction products are banned. It was even highlighted in a "60 Minutes" segment on smoking harm reduction.

Alternatives to cigarettes are important because while nicotine is addictive, much like caffeine, it is the toxic compounds in cigarette smoke that kill millions of people each year. Nicotine itself does not cause cancer, or any other smoking-related illness, any more than caffeine does, and the American Council on Science and Health supports harm reduction and smoking cessation as part of our 38-year war on smoking.

Snus will continue to be sold under current regulations.