New Information on Smokeless Tobacco: 2009 Smokeless Tobacco Summit

Although overall use of smokeless tobacco has reduced in the United States over the past decade, the use of moist snuff is the only segment of the tobacco market that has shown signs of growth in this country. There are many reasons to be concerned about this, and a need to monitor changes in the smokeless tobacco market closely. Among the biggest concerns are that youth-targeted marketing could cause an increase in new users, and that smokers who might otherwise quit smoking because of smoke-free air laws may use smokeless tobacco to keep their nicotine dependence (and smoking) going.

A couple of months ago the 5th National Summit on Smokeless and Spit Tobacco took place in Wisconsin. This meeting included presentations by many of the leading experts on smokeless tobacco in the country, and the slides and video recordings of these presentations are now publicly available on the conference website.

I havn’t looked at all of these, but if you are interested in this subject I’d recommend a visit to this website. The plenary presentation by Professor Jack Henningfield (Johns Hopkins University) provides an excellent overview of the latest developments and potential future scenarios.

His presentation and many others at the meeting emphasized that the tobacco industry is now focusing much more on marketing smokeless tobacco products. The products themselves and the marketing of these is changing rapidly. Obviously the motive here is to increase or maintain profits, rather than to reduce harm from tobacco. The simplest messages I took from viewing some of these presentations were as follows:

1. Smokeless tobacco products vary markedly in their harmfulness and addictiveness.
2. The tobacco industry is increasing their focus on the smokeless segment of the tobacco market.
3. While smokeless tobacco products are generally less harmful to health than smoking on an individual basis, the net population effect of increased smokeless use could be increased harm if smokeless predominantly keeps smokers smoking, rather than replaces smoked tobacco use.

As I have stated many times on this blog, if you are interested in quitting smoking my advice is that you consult a health professional who had been trained to help smokers quit, and if appropriate, use an FDA-approved smoking cessation medication (or 2) to increase your chances of success.
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.