Sunday, September 4, 2011

Study finds nearly 85% smokers mistake smokeless products as hazardous as smoking

CASAA advisor Bill Godshall, of Smokefree Pennsylvania, reported this week that a new study published in the Harm Reduction Journal, "Trends in beliefs about the harmfulness and use of stop-smoking medications and smokeless tobacco products among cigarettes smokers: Findings from the ITC four-country survey" found that 5 out of 6 smokers in North America inaccurately believe smokeless tobacco to be as hazardous as cigarettes - due, he said, to a 25 year US law requiring misleading package labels and campaign of deception by health agencies, organizations and professionals.

"Interestingly, this survey also found that a higher percentage of smokers in the UK and Australia (than in the US or Canada) correctly believe that smokeless tobacco is less hazardous than cigarettes, even though snus and many other smokeless tobacco products are banned in the UK and Australia, while being legal to market in the US and Canada," said Godshall.

"That's because health agencies, organizations and professionals in the US and Canada have engaged in a decades long campaign to deceive smokers to believe that smokeless tobacco is as hazardous as cigarettes," he said.

"Smoking has more than twice the risk of causing oral cancer as smokeless tobacco and Swedish-style snus and dissolvables have reduced levels of TSNA's that are below levels known to cause cancer," CASAA Director Thad Marney explained to readers.

Dr. Gilbert Ross, of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), emphatically agreed with the study’s conclusion in a statement posted on ACSH's web site.

“With the advent of the FDA’s regulation of tobacco products — including smokeless tobacco — in the U.S.,” Ross said, “the opportunity may soon present itself to provide the kind of public education that is so clearly needed.” He also points to the authors’ assertion that manufacturers have failed to inform consumers of the benefits of smokeless tobacco: “It’s the government that won’t allow them to properly inform the public,” he says.

"Ironically," said Godshall, "if any cigarette company had ever mislead smokers or the public to believe that smokeless tobacco was as hazardous as cigarettes, abstinence-only prohibitonists and government health agencies would have viciously attacked the cigarette company for lying."

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