During a webinar shown on August 4th, economists and leading international Tobacco Harm Reduction experts, referred to the success achieved by Sweden by endorsing the use of snus for smoking cessation. The Scandinavian country is boasting some of the lowest lung cancer rates in Europe, and a smoke-free status since 2017.
Mr Befrits, who is also the chairman of the board of Trustees for New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) Sweden and COO of International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), explained that snus is a form of tobacco pouch placed between the gum and upper lip. He reiterated that evidence from Sweden shows better health outcomes for snus users in comparison to smokers.
“Snus has been by far the most common, and successful, assisted smoke cessation tool used in Sweden since the 1970s. Sweden is now “smoke free,” which according to the WHO’s own definition of the term, means that smoking incidence is now less than 5 per cent,” he said.
The new tobacco-free nicotine pouches
The experts did point out that a drawback of using snus from a health perspective, is the presence of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) found in the tobacco. However, said Mr Befrits, while the old formulations of snus were associated with gum-disease and oral cancer, the latest formulations, some of which contain no tobacco at all, have either significantly reduced the levels of TNSAs or contain none at all. This means that these new products do not put users at a risk of developing such cancers.
Mr Joseph Magero, Chairman of CASA Africa, concurred with Mr Befrits, and pointed out that sadly, most of Africa’s 77 million smokers, have never even heard of snus. Additionally, he said, many of those who know about the products, are not aware of the latest changes in product composition and the latest evidence, so they still erroneously associate the products with oral cancers and diseases. Mr Magero said that governments have a responsibility to inform/educate their constituents about Tobacco Harm Reduction products.
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