Thursday, October 4, 2012

More Evidence That Smokeless Tobacco Products in the U.S. Have Low TSNA Levels

New data shows that tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) were at very low levels in almost all popular smokeless products available in the U.S. in 2006 and 2007. The findings appear in a research article in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (abstract here) authored by M.F. Borgerding and other scientists at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.

TSNA levels for specific brands are listed in the table below.  In reviewing the data, one should consider these points:

1.  The table lists levels in parts per million (ppm) by weight, or micrograms of TSNAs per gram of dry product.  This allows products with different moisture levels (e.g., dissolvable tobacco at 4% and moist snuff at about 50%) to be compared directly.

2.  ALL of the American products had low TSNA levels, especially when compared to products from the 1970s and 1980s (described here).  In the early 1980s, it was common to see moist snuff products with TSNA levels at 40-80 ppm; by the end of the decade, most products were under 40 ppm.  With rates declining further, to around 20 ppm in 1995, analytic reports ceased.

3.  Several Swedish snus products were analyzed; all had TSNA levels below 2 ppm. 

4.   The lowest TSNA levels were found in Ariva (0.1 ppm) and Stonewall (0.4 ppm) dissolvable tobacco pellets made by Star Scientific, Inc. (here). 

5.  Chewing tobacco products all had levels below the Gothiatek standard, which is 10 parts per million.  Gothiatek was developed by Swedish Match in the late 1990s to serve as a voluntary standard for maximum levels of some contaminants (described here).

6.  The highest TSNA levels (12-41 ppm) were found in powdered dry snuff, a form of tobacco historically favored by older Southern women, but steadily declining in popularity (evidence here).  When I worked with an investigator at the Swedish National Food Administration to analyze TSNAs in American products in 2003, we found very high levels in two powdered dry snuff brands ( abstract here).

How do smokeless tobacco TSNA levels compare with those in cigarettes?  The Reynolds scientists did not test cigarettes, but I did.  Camel and Marlboro cigarettes had TSNA levels around 7 ppm in 2003, putting them in the same range as many moist snuff and chewing tobacco products.  However, TSNAs are but one of many thousands of toxins delivered in smoke, so comparing these agents in cigarettes and smokeless is almost meaningless.  

A National Cancer Institute fact sheet describes TSNAs as “the most harmful chemicals in smokeless tobacco…” (here), but this study shows that TSNAs are present in tiny concentrations.  As discussed in a previous post (here), there is virtually no evidence that current TSNA levels are associated with any measurable cancer risks.

TSNA Levels in Smokeless Tobacco Products in the U.S., 2006 and 2007
Product Parts Per Million
Dissolvable Tobacco
Chewing Tobacco
Beech Nut2.9
Levi Garrett5.2
Red Man1.8
Red Man Golden1.2
Stoker Chew Apple4.6
Taylor’s Pride8.3
Traditional Moist Snuff
Cooper LC WG35.7
Copenhagen LC9.7
Copenhagen Pouches9.9
Grizzly LC WG 200610.1
Grizzly LC WG 20079.0
Husky FC11.2
Kayak LC WG25.5
Kodiak WG 200611.9
Kodiak WG 200713.1
Longhorn LC WG7.6
Red Seal FC10.0
Renegades WG7.9
Skoal FC Original10.0
Skoal LC Cherry9.1
Skoal LC Mint10.5
Skoal LC Straight10.4
Skoal LC WG13.9
Timberwolf LC WG8.1
Snus and Snus-Style Snuff
Camel Frost 20061.8
Camel Frost 20072.3
Camel Original 20061.9
Camel Original 20072.5
Camel Spice 20061.8
Camel Spice 20072.1
Catch Dry Eucalyptus*1.4
Catch Dry Licorice*1.4
General Portion*1.6
General White Portion*1.3
Skoal Dry2.7
Taboka Green1.6
Powdered Dry Snuff
Dental Sweet41.0
Levi Garrett25.8
Railroad Mills27.2
Red Seal18.6
*Manufactured in Sweden
LC- long cut
FC- fine cut



007Flavosnus said...

my dad is dying from lung cancer and COPD from years of smoking. I smoked for 35 years before switching to Swedish snus. I wish my dad would have had access to reduced harm smokeless tobacco. people can say what they want but some of us can't or don't want to quit for various reasons.

the more i learn about smokeless the madder i become at our government and some anti-cancer groups. why they want to hide the truth about smokeless from smokers is impossible for me to understand.

if not for people like Brad Rodu i would still be smoking. i am not very educated but i can read and verify information. That's what I did a few years ago with information from Mr. Rodu and others. Odd though, whenever I tried to verify information from the government sites a lot of it led me to learning it was lies. I still ask myself the question, why do they lie about smokeless? Holding back information in formats that average or below average educated people can understand that could save their lives should be a crime.

none of us will make it off this planet alive, it is true. At the same time I can promise you that dying of lung disease is not the way you want to leave.

Thank goodness there are still some sane and morale people left.

Jonathan Bagley said...

You might be interested in this talk

which I accessed via a link from this article by Chris Snowdon.

At 7.35 Arnott deliberately conflates the ban on the Scottish Skoal Bandit factory with the Swedish EU snus ban, even implying that snus is an alternative name for US oral tobacco.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Correction to my previous comment. I gather snus is used in the USA to describe some types of oral tobacco. I don't know if Skoal Bandits fall into this category. I understand Swedish style snus is considered less harmful because its manufacturing process differs from that of some types of USA oral tobacco.

Anonymous said...

Yes but, Jonathan, the study above shows TSNA levels for American snus to be as low as Swedish snus. I thought American snus was more harmful than Swedish snus until I read this.
As stated by Brad Rodu there is virtually no evidence that currant TSNA levels are associated with any measurable cancer risks.