Home Society The FDA Approves the Marketing of Snus as a Safer Alternative

The FDA Approves the Marketing of Snus as a Safer Alternative

This week, the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a judgement that eight snus smokeless tobacco products can be marketed as being less harmful than smoking. 

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Snus is a moist powder tobacco product that is placed under the upper lip for extended periods. It is mostly popular in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, where it is legal and considered an effective harm reduction product. In fact, snus has not only led to Sweden boasting the lowest smoking rates in Europe, but more importantly, also to reporting the lowest rates of lung cancer across the continent.

Meanwhile a study from Rutgers University released earlier this year, had indicated that unfortunately, the situation in the US is different. Despite evidence to the contrary, the researchers had found that most American smokers still believe that snus is as harmful as combustible tobacco.

The study titled “Smokers’ perceptions of risks and harm from snus relative to cigarettes: A latent profile analysis study”, had analysed the responses of 256 smokers in relation to their perceptions about the risks of developing lung cancer, heart disease and oral cancer when using snus versus cigarettes.

Sadly, only about 17% had accurately stated that snus has lower risks for lung cancer, with 45% incorrectly saying that snus was equally or more harmful for all three disease-risks, and 38% saying that snus carried increased risks for oral cancer only.

The NNA urges the EU to follow suit

A press release by the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) has welcomed the development in the US and urges the European Union to abandon its “archaic and indefensible ban” on snus and follow suit.

“..the EU is wedded to an out-of-date, unscientific and therefore indefensible ban on products which are 99% safer than smoking, while allowing cigarettes to be sold everywhere.”

“It is inexplicable why the EU continues to perpetuate the ban on European smokers choosing to switch to snus,” said Mark Oates from the NNA. “Not only is the sale of snus permitted in the USA but they have now allowed one company to make the undisputed claim that ‘using snus instead of cigarettes puts you at a lower risk of mouth cancer, heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis’, the difference in approach could not be more stark, and it is the EU which is being reckless with its public’s health, not America.”

“The FDA has recognized that there is a continuum of risk surrounding nicotine use and that snus is at the very low end of that,” Oates continued, “this decision is a welcome game-changer as it acknowledges, quite rightly, that safer nicotine products can offer great potential for smokers who wish to switch from smoking to a safer alternative.”

Public perception is key, and the US has decided that messaging conveying the relative risk of nicotine products is vital information that can offer great benefits to advancement of public health. By contrast, the EU is wedded to an out-of-date, unscientific and therefore indefensible ban on products which are 99% safer than smoking, while allowing cigarettes to be sold everywhere.”

There is “no valid reason for snus to be prohibited”

Oates concluded by pointing out that the snus ban just does not make sense. “It is well past time that the EU stepped out of the 80s and followed the lead of the FDA. There is simply no valid reason for snus to be prohibited in the EU, it is a shameful dereliction of duty which should be overturned at the first opportunity.”

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