Snus has not only led to Sweden boasting the lowest smoking rates in Europe, but more importantly, also to reporting the lowest rates of lung cancer across the continent.
Snus is a moist powder tobacco product that is placed under the upper lip for extended periods. It is mostly popular in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, where it is legal and considered an effective harm reduction product. In fact, snus has not only led to Sweden boasting the lowest smoking rates in Europe, but more importantly, also to reporting the lowest rates of lung cancer across the continent.
Despite this, the study titled, “Increasing similarities between young adults’ smoking and snus use in Norway: a study of the trends and stages of smoking and snus epidemic from 2010 to 2018,” fails to acknowledge that higher snus use rates and subsequent lower smoking rates, are a positive stride forward for public health.
As snus used increased, smoking has decreased
The aim of this study was investigating the trends of smoking and snus use and determining whether current patterns of snus use are similar to previous patterns of smoking. The researchers reported that while daily smoking decreased from 5.9 to 1.5% between 2010 and 2018, daily snus use has increased from 13.4 to 19.9% in the same time period. Female snus use, added the researchers, has almost doubled, from 10.9 to 19.2%.
“The overall smoking decrease indicated that the Norwegian smoking epidemic is in its latest stage. Steady male snus use, doubled female snus use and a clear social gradient in snus use all indicate that the snus epidemic in Norway has progressed. If this trend continues, a main implication is that snus prevalence will soon peak, first in males and then in females,” concluded the researchers.
The problem with this study is referring to snus use as an “epidemic” when truly it should be endorsed and encouraged as a smoking cessation and/or harm reduction aid as suggested by countless health experts. This is all the more evident given that there is an obvious relationship between the increase in snus use and decrease in smoking.
Similar misconceptions amongst the general population
A previous study also conducted in Norway, had also indicated high levels of misconceptions even amongst the general public. The study titled, “Relative Risk Perceptions between Snus and Cigarettes in a Snus-Prevalent Society—An Observational Study over a 16 Year Period”, was conducted over a 16 years period (2003–2018). A large sample of 13,381 respondents (aged 16–79 years) answered questions about risk perceptions, in Norway’s national survey of tobacco behavior.
The authors’ found that cigarettes were accurately rated the worst, at an average response of 6.5, while snus also averaged relatively high at 5.14 (79.3%). Meanwhile, vaporizers averaged at 3.8 and NRT 3.4 (58.4% and 52.3%). The researchers noted that the average scores on the scale have remained remarkably close to the once in 2003.