The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has just published a new report on the use of Swedish Snus. However, instead of celebrating the remarkable impact that snus has had on smoking rates in Norway, the Institute has chosen to focus on minimal risks as if to deter use of one of the safest forms of nicotine in existence.
The report speculates on a host of “probable” and “possible” negative outcomes despite snus being definitely orders of magnitude safer than smoking which it is replacing. It also worries unnecessarily about the increase in Norwegian snus users who had not previously smoked, despite it being certain that many of those would have gone on to use the most harmful nicotine delivery system – cigarettes – if snus was not readily accessible.
The truth is that snus has delivered considerable success in Norway, with Government figures showing that smoking has almost disappeared among young Norwegian women, especially. In 2001 the smoking rate among females aged 16 to 24 was 30%. By 2017 that had collapsed to just 1%. Over the same period smoking among young Norwegian men fell from 29% to 3%.
These data illustrate the game-changing potential of reduced risk nicotine products to better the Norwegian population’s health, which could only bring further benefits now e-cigarettes have been legalised.
“The significant switch from smoking towards the use of snus in the past two decades has been an unmitigated success,”, says André Bendigtsen, of Nikan, a consumer-led association which advocates for tobacco harm reduction in Norway, “rather than exaggerating negligible health risks, the NIPH should be celebrating the fact that smoking prevalence has collapsed by smokers choosing to use safer products without any cost to taxpayers.”
“Why is the NIPH so intent on creating doubt about the indisputable role that snus played in improving the public’s health in our country and, instead, seems to want to scare the public into avoiding less harmful nicotine use?
“Rather than amplifying negative messages about snus, the NIPH should be recognising that harm reduction works, and should be embracing the use of other safer products such as e-cigarettes too.”, André Bendigtsen continues, “Banning vaping in public places sends the message that there is no benefit in switching to a safer option, this has to change. We would encourage government and policy-makers in Norway to talk to consumers such as us and hear our stories of how snus and vaping have transformed our lives for the better, and why authorities should rejoice in the positive change rather than trying to suppress it”.
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