Smokeless tobacco might be the answer to nicotine addiction that could save lives. That’s the conclusion of one researcher who says there’s scientific evidence to support that switching to smokeless products is 98 percent safer than discount Virginia cigs. Because nicotine addiction is so difficult to cure, Brad Rodu, D.D.S., professor of medicine at the University of Louisville (UofL) School of Medicine and the Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction at UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, suggests lives would be saved by focusing on reducing tobacco harm. He says it’s possible to use tobacco products safely, and there’s scientific evidence to prove it.
“Nicotine is addictive, but it is not the cause of any smoking-related disease. Like caffeine, nicotine can be used safely by consumers,” Rodu said in a media statement.
Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Feb. 18, Rodu presented, “Harm Reduction: Policy Change to Reduce the Global Toll of Smoking-Related Disease”.
He says there is a consistent message to 45 million Americans to stop smoking or die.
“The truth, however, is that total nicotine and tobacco abstinence is unattainable and unnecessary for many smokers.”
Instead, he proposes smokers can mitigate the harm cause from tobacco by switching to e-cigarettes or spit-free smokeless tobacco. Though no tobacco is safe, Rodu backs up his claim by citing low rates of lung cancer in Sweden.
“Over the past 50 years, Swedish men have had Europe’s highest per capita consumption of smokeless tobacco as well as Europe’s lowest cigarette use. During the same time, they also have the lowest rate of lung cancer than men in any other European country.”
The National Cancer Institute reports” Approximately 20% of Swedish men and about 2% of Swedish women use snus
daily. The number of women using snus is increasing.”
He says tobacco harm reduction strategies delivered to the public may be a better approach for saving lives instead of “brutal” messages to stop smoking or perish.
According to a 2006 National Cancer Institute-funded study, 4 million people would switch to smokeless tobacco if public health messages were delivered “responsibly”.
Rodu also points out the American Council on Science and Health concluded in 2006 that tobacco harm reduction “shows great potential as a public health strategy to help millions of smokers.”
The researcher anticipates controversy from his suggestion. He says opponents are going to say smokeless tobacco products lead to oral cancer. Science, he says, doesn’t support that it’s so.