06 April 2010
Snubie.com's Take on the 60 Minutes story, "Going Smokeless". 7 April 2010.
Watch 60 Minutes: "Going Smokeless".
In regards to the original video, "Going Smokeless", I want to say thank you, 60 Minutes, for presenting a fair and balanced story on smokeless tobacco, snus, in particular, and some of the harm reduction practices. I was very pleased to see this story, and believe it had a positive message in it with a lot of important facts included, as well. I did have a few things I wanted to address, and a few opinions of my own I wanted to offer.
First, the "dual user", is not characteristic of a snus user. It's just not a common thing you see very often. I support this with the hundreds of snus users I've met in the U.S. and internationally over the past year that I have been active in the snus community. I can also say this of myself, because I started out as an "attempted dual user". I started snus to help me with my cigarette cravings when I was busy, or in a place that I couldn't smoke. But the longer I used snus - I noticed a change. I started using more snus, and less cigarettes, until I got to the point that I had completely quit smoking and was using snus exclusively. Snus is naturally a better nicotine delivery system, and I've noticed this in others who have took up snus as well, that it will replace your desire for cigarettes (I can't say this is true of 100% of all snus users, but I can say I have observed this in a majority of people I have known to use snus), and will help you quit smoking. I was a pack a day cigarette smoker for roughly 8 years. I had tried everything - the patch, gum, Chantix, you name it - I had tried it. Snus was the ONLY thing that ever worked for me.
The health benefits? Great. As Dr. Karl Fagerström stated, "Many authorities....somewhere between 90-99% less harmful than smoking." "They have reduced their risk from a skyscraper to a two story building." I couldn't agree more. I have noticed my health to be dramatically improved from switching to snus, as well as lowering my risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and studies have also shown it lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis. In regards to it impacting dental health/oral hygeine - I disagree. Since switching to snus, my dentist had even noticed a difference. As a smoker, he would frequently tell me of the negative impact of smoking on oral hygiene, and after I quit smoking and gradually started using snus more, he remarked visit after visit how my teeth were improving, and would often ask me what I was doing to make this happen? When I told him I had quit smoking and was using snus, he was astonished that an oral tobacco product was not causing any negative impact to my oral hygiene.
There have been other studies as well, and many have remarked on the health benefits of quitting smoking with snus, and the harm reduction strategy.
In the Harm Reduction Journal, Dr. Carl Phillips noted the following. "It has long been known that while no nicotine product is completely harmless, harm reduction products pose only about 1% the risk from smoking," says Dr. Phillips, "and this difference is so great that for the average smoker, using a smokeless product for the rest of his life poses about the same risk as 30 days of continuing to smoke." Given the ample evidence about the risks of different products, "there is no scientific basis for denying the benefits of tobacco harm reduction" says Phillips, "and it is time that we offer smokers honest public health interventions rather than the moralizing and deadly 'abstinence-only' approach."
From a USA Today article on snus, "For a smoker, quitting all tobacco use is best, but failing that, switching to snus is a good idea," said Dr. Peter Hajek, professor of clinical psychology at Queen Mary University Hospital in London.
From Dr. Brad Rodu's Tobacco Truth Blog: "Researchers at the Karolinska Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm have just released a new study of tobacco use and MS, which was published in the September 1 issue of the journal Neurology. They compared tobacco use among persons diagnosed with MS (cases) with a group of controls derived from the Swedish population. This experimental design, called a population-based case-control study, is common in epidemiology....." "In contrast to smoking, the study found that snus users had lower risks for MS than nonusers of tobacco."
What is this telling us? That snus can be used to quit smoking. I know it, I've seen it myself. As said in the 60 Minutes story, it's not called "harm elimination." This strategy is called "harm reduction". And if all else fails for people, turning to snus from cigarettes can be a good idea with positive benefits on the individuals health.
On to Karla Sneegas, from the Anti-Tobacco program in Indiana. She is an example of what many people refer to as an "anti-tobacco zealot" who believes abstinence from tobacco is the best practice. I don't believe she was ever a smoker, because anyone who had smoked knows just how hard it is to quit smoking. She believes that another form of tobacco, even in a harm reduction practice, is just as "evil" as a cigarette. I firmly believe, in the interest of public health, that snus is a less harmful product and promotes better public health. I've said it for as long as I've been writing about snus, "LOOK AT SWEDEN." If the United States had a similar health practice regarding harm reduction and the use of snus we would have less cancer cases here than we already do. 45 Million smokers in the United States is NOT a good thing. Karla, no matter how you look at it - some people just CAN'T quit with patches, gum, Chantix, or even cold turkey. Which is why Dr. Karl Fagerström, remarks "Under certain circumstances, yes, the last resort would be to please, try snus, give it a chance." Karla Sneegas says, "We can't say these products are safer...", but if you look at studies, I believe we can. It's being reported that 90% of people who try the patch or gum fail. Isn't it fair, in the interest of public health, that we offer another option? Snus IS that option, and from what I have observed it can be successful when all other options fail. It's people like this who are hurting, not helping. By denying the benefits of these products to people who can't otherwise quit we are working against the health of our fellow brothers and sisters on this Earth when we should be working with them, to help those who want better health, who have said they want to quit smoking but just can't seem to make it happen.
Dr. Karl Fagerström delivered what I believe to be one of the most realistic statements about snus use and addiction. "Addiction is regarded as unnatural state, so addiction is a problem, but it's less of a problem than lung cancer." I agree. Snus is a form of tobacco that can be used by people who can't quit smoking by their own means, or the help of various drugs and other options, to quit smoking. And in this modern era I believe it is time we move forward into the future and embrace the practice of harm reduction in the interest of public health and do not shy away from the benefits of "Going Smokeless".
Watch 60 Minutes: "Extra: Quitting Smoking - The Patch, Gum, or Snus?".
In regards to the second video, "Extra: Quitting Smoking - The Patch, Gum, or Snus?", the last statement made by Dr. Karl Fagerström, I couldn't agree more. "Under certain circumstances, yes, the last resort would be to please, try snus, give it a chance." "They have reduced their risk from a skyscraper to a two story building." I agree. The facts speak for themselves, the health studies aren't just from the "Pro Tobacco Camp", but from doctors and people who have spent time in the field researching this very matter.
I am a PROUD EX-smoker and I would never have been able to say that if it wasn't for snus. I am looking forward to a longer life and being around for the people I love most, and using the harm reduction strategy to quit smoking with the use of snus has given me that possibility, enabled that future, and brightened my outlook on life.