A small study quietly published last year confirms findings of my 1998 clinical trial: appropriately informed, smokers will embrace smokeless tobacco (ST) as a satisfying and socially acceptable cigarette substitute.
I reported here in 2011 that researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina were conducting a nationwide clinical trial evaluating whether Camel Snus could help smokers quit. Although the results of that trial are not yet available, the researchers have documented that Camel Snus “can lead to reduced smoking and increased intention to quit.”
Led by Dr. Jessica Burris, MUSC investigators recruited 57 smokers who were unmotivated to quit into one of three groups: (1) a control group of 11 smokers who smoked their own cigarettes; (2) 23 smokers who were given Camel Snus and instructed to use it to cope with smoking restrictions (Snus to Cope); and (3) 23 smokers who were instructed to use Camel Snus to reduce or even eliminate smoking (Snus to Reduce). Data was collected at the start, midpoint and end of the two-and-a-half week study period.
Although the study numbers were small, the results showed that snus worked, especially keeping in mind that women, who don’t normally use ST, comprised 65% of the snus groups. Sixty-four percent of the Cope group and 71% of the Reduce group used snus daily. Daily cigarette use declined by 18% in the Cope group and 38% in the Reduce group. Compared with the control group, motivation and intent to quit smoking was higher in both snus groups.
After the study, participants in both snus groups “said they liked Camel snus to a moderate degree, but not as much as they liked their usual brand of cigarettes. Finally, participants in the Cope and Reduce groups perceived low-nitrosamine SLT as having either less (67.4%) or equal (32.6%) risk compared with conventional cigarettes; no one rated [Camel Snus] as having more risk than conventional cigarettes.”
The authors conclude: “This study replicates previous work that shows that low-nitrosamine ST use can lead to reduced smoking and increased intention to quit, and it adds direct evidence to suggest that the function of low-nitrosamine ST use – either to cope with smoking restrictions or to reduce smoking – can have a differential impact on smoking behavior. Overall, the results highlight the importance of messaging and, more specifically, marketing of low-nitrosamine ST to smokers.”
The scientific case for ST as a smoking cessation aid continues to expand.