Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Perceptions of Snus and Cigarette Risks Among Doctors in Norway

While doctors in the U.S. suffer from a lack of knowledge about the relative risks of smoking and smokeless (here), it appears that general medical practitioners in Norway are somewhat better educated, according to a recent study in Nicotine & Tobacco Research (abstract here).

Ingeborg Lund and Janne Scheffels of the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research sent a questionnaire in 2008 to 2,000 Norwegian medical doctors; 45% responded. The doctors were asked: “In terms of health risks, how do you think daily use of snus compares to daily use of cigarettes?” They responded:

Much less harmful: 36%
Less harmful: 45%
Same harm: 14%
More harmful: 0%
Much more harmful: 1%
Uncertain: 4%

Lund and Scheffels, who considered “much less harmful” as the response consistent with the scientific consensus, were disappointed that only 36% of doctors answered correctly. On a positive note, 81% of Norwegian doctors know that snus use is safer than smoking – a far better rate than in the U.S.

Compared with ill-informed doctors, those who knew that snus was much less harmful than cigarettes were twice as likely to recommend snus as a quit-smoking aid.

Tobacco harm reduction will only succeed when smokers and their physicians are educated about snus and other cigarette alternatives. Although awareness among Norwegian doctors is not optimal, it should be sufficient to reduce cigarette consumption in that country.


Jonathan Bagley said...

A couple of years ago a Swedish student called at my office and noticed my snus can. We got chatting and he said, when he was 18, he was smoking heavily and his doctor suggested he switched to snus, which he did, and no longer smokes.

Sophie said...

I have two Swedish friends who swear by Snus, but the rest of the EU still outlaws them, just doesn't make sense.