According to a recent report in the Washington Post a growing number of tobacco companies are searching for alternatives to cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco. One of their answers is Snus, a smokeless tobacco product innovated in Sweden in the mid-19th century.
The Guardian reports that Snus’ popularity grew in the 1970s when it was marketed as a vehicle for helping smokers wean off cigarette tobacco. It was observed that between 1976 and 2002 male smokers in Sweden fell from 40 to 15 percent with the aid of Snus.
However, WebMD expert Daniel J. DeNoon warns that Snus is highly addictive and can cause oral, pancreatic, and esophageal cancer.
“Snus is made with a special process to help control nitrosamine levels. Nitrosamine levels in Snus are still 100 times greater than levels of nitrosamines in foods like nitrite-preserved meats,” said Stephen S. Hecht, PhD, professor of cancer prevention at the University of Minnesota.
In Sweden and Norway, WebMD reports that beyond cancer, Snus has been linked to minor and major mouth sores, dental cavities, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
Within the U.S., Snus is growing in popularity and expected to become even more popular in the coming months and years. Michael Eriksen, ScD, director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University, fears that kids may adopt Snus and then grow into smokers. What may appear to some as a less harmful method of taking in nicotine may in fact be a gateway substance to much more harmful addictions.
In Sweden, Snus addiction for youth, young adults, and adult ex-smokers is a very real issue. As the popularity of smoking has decreased, the use of Snus has grown. More than one million people use it on a daily basis. Of these, 80 percent are adult men and 20 percent women, equating to 26 percent of the male population and six percent of the female population.
Those considering the adoption of Snus may want to view the following photos, detailing the effects that Snus can have on teeth and gums:
“Those who sell nicotine would like to keep people hooked on nicotine forever,” says Erikson. The recent Washington Post report appears to second this sentiment, as the publication cites that the tobacco industry’s main goal is to find “new growth areas.” This includes Snus.
Erikson and other experts hope that Snus adoption doesn’t grow into a trend, but serve primarily as a method for getting men and women off of nicotine forever. “There are 50 million people in the U.S. who are regular nicotine users. The sooner we can get them off of nicotine entirely, the better.”