Friday, June 16, 2017

EU Snus Ban Costs More Lives

A new report from the Swedish Snus Commission underscores the accelerating human toll of the European Union’s unconscionable ban on smokeless tobacco: “…among men over the age of 30, 355,000 lives per year could have been saved if the other EU countries had matched Sweden’s tobacco-related mortality rate.”  Sweden is the only EU nation in which sales of snus are legal.

In 2009, epidemiologist Phil Cole and I, analyzing data from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, reported in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health that 274,000 smoking-attributable deaths would be avoided if men throughout the EU had the smoking prevalence of men in Sweden (here).  Four years later, I updated that figure to 291,000 (here).       

The Snus Commission report, available here, was produced by a distinguished group of Swedes.  The commission’s chairman is Anders Milton, a physician and former President and Chairman of the Swedish Medical Association, President of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations from 1993 to 2001, and President of the Swedish Red Cross from 2002 to 2005.  His collaborators are Christina Bellander, a journalist who previously headed business development at Swedish TV4 and was a Board Member of New Wave Group AB, Mittmedia AB and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company; Göran Johnsson, a former member of the Social Democratic Party’s Executive Committee, Board Member of Volvo AB and Chairman of Swedish national television broadcaster SVT from 2011 to 2014; and Karl Olov Fagerström, a WHO-recognized nicotine and tobacco researcher who has authored 150 articles in peer reviewed journals.

The casualty list from the indefensible and immoral EU snus ban continues to grow. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Swedish Miracle Continues

 A special report on tobacco and e-cigarettes published by Eurobarometer, the official polling organization of the 28-nation European Union (here), underscores the remarkable success of what researchers call “The Swedish Experience”.

According to the report, the prevalence of smoking in Sweden is just 7%, with no other EU country even remotely close.  UK prevalence is 17%, while only Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland are below 20%.  The prevalence of daily smoking in Sweden is a bare 5%, as shown in the chart at left (credit to Lars Ramstrom from Sweden), and the prevalence of former smoking is 41%, the EU’s highest by far. 

Eurobarometer provides an array of impressive statistics: “In all but one country, at least eight in ten (80%) of smokers consume tobacco products daily. The exception is Sweden, where only just over half (52%) give this response. In turn, over a fifth (21%) of smokers in Sweden are irregular smokers, consuming listed tobacco products less than monthly.  In all other countries, very few respondents give this answer.”

There is only one explanation for Sweden’s remarkable number: the popularity of snus, the sales of which are prohibited in all other EU nations.  The new report reveals that 20% of Swedes use snus daily.  The only other countries with daily smokeless use are Denmark (1%), home of Oliver Twist chewing tobacco pellets, and Finland (2%).

The Eurobarometer report should pressure the EU to end its snus ban.  Swedish Match has filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice to compel EU action.  For more on “the worst regulation in the EU,” see Clive Bates’ excellent commentaries, such as this (here).

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chewers and Dippers: Get the Facts on Smokeless from CASAA

Smokeless tobacco users in the U.S. are constantly under attack for their “bad habit”.  Public health officials and organizations deliberately misinform consumers about smokeless health risks, generating undue pressure to quit from friends and families.

The truth about smokeless has been hard to come by. Chewers and dippers can watch my informative video interview with Mudjug’s Darcy Compton (here), or they can read or listen to my book, For Smokers Only, How Smokeless Tobacco Can Save Your Life. 

Now, there’s another option: a downloadable pamphlet from Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) titled, “Smokeless Tobacco: Separating Fact from Myth” (available here).  Save it as a pdf and print copies to share.

CASAA is a non-profit organization “dedicated to ensuring the availability of reduced harm alternatives to smoking and to providing smokers and non-smokers alike with honest information about those alternatives so that they can make informed choices… We believe that consumers are best served by ensuring diversity in the marketplace and by being provided with truthful and accurate information so that they can make informed decisions regarding their health and lifestyle choices.”

CASAA’s 200,000 members are active in tobacco legislation, litigation and regulation.  The group maintains an archive of thousands of testimonials from former smokers who found safer cigarette substitutes (here).  Everyone who cares about smokers, smokeless users and truthful information should become a member here.