Smokeless or noncombusted oral tobacco use as a substitute for cigarette smoking has been gaining greater interest and attention by the public health community and the tobacco industry. In order for the product to appeal to smokers, tobacco companies have been manufacturing new noncombusted oral tobacco (i.e., moist snuff) that is lower in moisture content and nitrosamine levels, packaged in small sachets and "spitless." While the primary motives of the major tobacco companies are to maintain or increase tobacco use, some members of the public health community perceive the use of noncombusted oral tobacco products as a harm reduction tool. Because cigarette smoking is associated with greater toxicant exposure compared to noncombusted oral tobacco, reduced mortality and morbidity are hypothesized to ensue, if cigarette smokers switched completely to these products. However, variability exists in levels of nicotine and toxicants and potential health consequences from use within and across countries. Therefore, promulgating noncombusted oral tobacco products as a safer alternative to smoking or as a substitute for smoking may engender more rather than less harm. To date, limited research is available on the effects of marketing noncombusted oral tobacco products to smokers, to support the use of these products as a harm reduction tool, and to determine the effects of varying levels of tobacco toxicants including nicotine on health. The need exists for manufacturing standards to lower toxicant levels of all noncombusted oral tobacco products, for the formulation of appropriate tobacco-product regulations and for the development of a strategic plan by the public health community to address this controversial topic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health