Monday, December 12, 2022

American Cancer Society, Which De-Listed Smokeless Tobacco as a Cancer Risk, Now Targets Nicotine Pouches


The journal JAMA Network Open last month published a short report by American Cancer Society and University of Georgia researchers who used Nielsen retail scanner point-of-purchase sales data to estimate U.S. sales of four nicotine pouch brands: Zyn, Rogue, On! and Velo.  While the authors acknowledged that their “data did not represent all nicotine pouch products and online sales,” they still reported a whopping increase in consumption: “Overall sales [of nicotine pouches] increased from 126.06 million units from August to December 2019 to 808.14 million units from January to March 2022.”

This raised a red flag at the American Cancer Society, which issued a press release subtitled, “Researchers at the American Cancer Society stress health interventions to continue reducing nicotine pouch use.”  What health concerns did they cite?  The press release mentions “flavorings, sweeteners”, “colorful packaging that looks like mint containers,” and the usual culprit, “addictive chemical nicotine, which can negatively impact your learning, attention span, and proneness to addiction.”

The closing line of the report reflects the real intent of the authors and the Society: “Health campaigns warning of potential adverse health outcomes of nicotine pouches are needed.”

The question remains: What are those “adverse health outcomes”?  Four years ago, the Society issued a policy paper identifying the top 17 causes of cancer (here).  Smokeless tobacco products were not on the list, as the Society promised to “focus on the primary goal of ending deadly combustible tobacco use.”

Today, the Society has apparently shifted its focus to nicotine pouches.

The American Cancer Society has for decades opposed all nicotine/tobacco products.  Since smokeless products are vastly safer quit-smoking options, the organization has betrayed its “vision to end cancer as we know it for everyone.”  Rather than ensuring “that everyone has an opportunity to prevent…cancer,” the Society ensures that smokers and their families continue to suffer. 

Seven years ago I wrote, “It is time for tobacco users, their families and friends to send a message to the American Cancer Society: ‘Say goodbye to our donations.’  Tell ACS volunteers in your community that the society must acknowledge scientific facts and abandon its tobacco prohibition stance.  Until the ACS tells the truth about tobacco harm reduction, charitable contributions should be directed elsewhere.”

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