Thursday, February 11, 2010
Clinical Trial Evidence: Snus Is Superior Cigarette Substitute
New Zealand Researchers have published clinical trial results demonstrating that snus is a better cigarette substitute than nicotine gum. The study appears in the online edition of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
The authors are Brent Caldwell, Carl Burgess and Julian Crane from the Department of Medicine at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand. After observing smoking patterns and consumption for one (lead-in) week, Caldwell’s group gave 63 smokers three different cigarette substitutes, each for two weeks. The substitutes were Swedish snus (4-gram pouches in three flavors), Habitrol nicotine gum (containing 4 milligrams of nicotine) and a new product called Zonnic (a peppermint pouch containing 4 milligrams of nicotine embedded in microcrystalline beads). The latter product is a new medication developed by a Swedish company called Niconovum, which was purchased by R.J. Reynolds in December.
The researchers collected information from the participants about the “acceptability and the willingness of smokers to use” the substitutes. They asked five questions gauging satisfaction, and they reported that “subjects scored Zonnic and snus more highly than gum for four out of the five…” All three products significantly reduced craving for cigarettes, and all three “…enabled subjects to reduce their smoking significantly compared with the lead-in week.”
Participants ranked Zonnic and snus higher than nicotine gum for both quitting and reducing smoking. “At the conclusion of the study, subjects were asked to rank the three products in order of overall preference. For their first choice, an equal number (40%) chose snus or Zonnic, while 20% chose gum” This is great news, because prohibitionists have argued that snus will never be accepted outside Sweden as a cigarette substitute.
Caldwell’s study was funded by the Asthma & Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand. It is refreshing to learn of a health organization that places a higher priority on finding solutions to smoking than on tormenting tobacco companies and users.
The FDA will soon be in a position to approve safer cigarette substitutes. This is the kind of evidence that the agency cannot ignore.