Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snus is the Leading Smoking Cessation Aid for Swedish Men and Women

A Swedish population-based survey documents that “…snus continues to be the most frequently reported cessation aid among male smokers…” and “[u]se of snus at the latest quit attempt appeared to be associated with a higher success rate among both males and females than other reported methods…”

The article in Harm Reduction Journal (here) was written by Dr. Lars Erik Rutqvist, Senior Vice President for Scientific Affairs at Swedish Match.

Dr. Rutqvist conducted a telephone survey of current and former tobacco use among 6,008 Swedish men and women age 18+ years in November 2008 and September 2009; the results were weighted to represent the Swedish population.  The 12-question interview, which took about two minutes, asked whether subjects smoked or used snus regularly or sometimes, and about quit attempts and products.

The table shows that 16% of Swedish men were exclusive snus users, although only 10% were exclusive smokers.  In comparison, almost 14% of Swedish women smoked, and less than 3% used snus.  Dual use was also more common among men (almost 5%) than among women.    

Prevalence of Tobacco Use Among Men and Women in Sweden Age 18+ Years, 2008-2009
Exclusive Snus Use16.4%2.7%
Exclusive Smoking10.2%13.8%
Dual Use4.8%1.1%
The survey also revealed the methods that former smokers had used to quit smoking.  Sixty-eight percent of men had quit on their own; 22% used snus, making it the most popular aid by far.  Among women, 78% had quit on their own; 5% of former smokers used snus, which was more popular among women age 30-44 years (12%) and those 45-54 years (7%). 

This study provides additional proof that men and women in Sweden have quit smoking by switching to snus.  The Swedish tobacco experience has been reproduced in Norway (discussed here) and the U.S. (discussed here). Given the evidence, it is difficult to comprehend why the EU bans snus in all member countries other than Sweden, and the U.S. government promotes abstinence as the only quit-smoking option.  Public policy globally should embrace tobacco harm reduction in the interest of saving smokers’ lives.

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