Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Information on smokeless tobacco & NRT

I am interested in finding out what I can about smokeless tobacco products (wet and dry snuff or snus) and nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) in Australia. The latter include things like nicotine patches, inhalents and gums.

I know a little about wet and dry snuff but very little about NRT in Australia or its regulation. I am very interested in the pricing and availability of NRT therapies. If you have any experience with using NRT I'd be interested in your views - either here or direct to my email on the side column.

On smokeless tobacco products such as snuff.

Despite their relative safety - they are much safer than smoking cigarettes - Australia banned smokeless chewing tobacco and snuff in 1991 and previously in 1989.

According to the ACCC:

‘On October 12, 1989 a ban on smokeless tobacco products was declared under the Trade Practices Act 1974. This ban was prompted by a World Health Organisation recommendation of a global and pre-emptive ban on all smokeless cigarettes on the basis of studies showing these products cause oral cancer and other severe oral conditions.’ The ban specifically refers to ‘Chewing tobacco and snuffs intended for oral use.’

More recently, in 2003, the ACCC still listed smokeless tobacco as a banned product on the grounds of links with oral cancer: (here, page 10). To cater for people already addicted to chewing tobacco, consumers are allowed to import quantities up to 1.5kg for personal use: See Food Standards Australia New Zealand 2004. The ACCC document recommended the banning of nicotine in foods since, as at 2004, there was no prohibition on importing foods containing nicotine, such as NicoPops - lollypops with a kick.

Somewhat inconsistently however nasal snuff is not banned In Australia but is regulated and must carry health warnings similar to cigarettes: See here page 33.

This failure to emphasise harm reduction is criticised in the RCACP Report (2005, pages 15, 62, 63). This is a comprehensive policy document which includes a recommendation to include harm reduction in the fight against smoking tobacco use.

Despite this those concerned with drug issues in Australia remain ambivalent about harm reduction efforts in relation to smoking. The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia Vice President Wayne Hall states in the recent edition of Substance:

‘What attitude, for example, should ADCA take if the tobacco industry begins to promote non-smoked forms of tobacco products that have reduced levels of carcinogens such as Swedish snus? Should ADCA campaign to have current bans on the sale of these products removed in the interests of reducing harm among current smokers? Or should we, as some tobacco control advocates argue, see this as another policy mirage (like ‘light’ cigarettes) and keep our gaze firmly fixed on the goal of zero tobacco use?’ (Hall (2007, p. 5)).

Banning Swedish snus but allowing the continued sale of smoking cigarettes provides a regulatory bias that delivers monopoly power to the lethal tobacco industry. Such regulations, globally, are directly responsible for millions of deaths given that there are much safe alternatives to smoking cigarettes.

On NRTs.

My impression is that NRT products are expensive in Australia but that they are generally fairly readilky available. Beyond this I don't have a lot of information after 2002. My understanding is that to be effective NRTs need to provide a decent nicotine blast and that some don't. They also need to be cheap enough to permit long-term use.


Francis Xavier Holden said...

I wasn't aware that snuff was banned.
I have sitting here on my desk a fairly plain tin of Top Mill No.1 Snuff - A genuine English Snuff by Joseph and Henry Wilson Ltd.Est.1883.

From memory it was a present from someone a few years back.

I may have sniffed a bit back then but the tin looks full to me.

Illustrating the dangers of the random nutcases writing on the internet, misplaced educational efforts and effects on unsupervised idiots reading the net - after reading your piece I decided, in the interests of science, to have a pinch or two.

No ceremony was invoked save ensuring that I had an old fashioned cloth hanky. Taking a sizable pinch betwixt thumb and forefinger I shoved it up the left nostril and inhaled then ditto right nostril.

Aside from a sneezing fit and the need to blow the nose I may have experienced a slight increase in pulse rate and a small increase in energy, however this may have resulted from the frisson of rebelliousness associated with ingesting a banned drug mid afternoon.

The experience is the same as I remember it from years ago when there was a short lived fad to sniff snuff.

Essentially the action has the look, feel and class of opening the vacuum cleaner and snorting some of the dust and cat fur. Snuff may be less dangerous to my health.

I've always reckoned that any addiction I had to smoking has never been particularly related to the nicotine hit but to other more social, psychological and behavioural factors.

Just on that note - what does the literature say about those whose smoking is NOT directly related to nicotine dosage(and therefore not related to NRT)?

hc said...

You can buy the stuff you snort (dry snuff) but not the stuff you chew (wet snuff).

My understanding is that it is very low relative risk consumption (compared to smoked tobacco) except that.....

...for 'chippers' such as yourself the single risk that has been identified is that the hefty nicotine load delivered can turn you to a nicotine addict. This is also a problem for new users for whom 'nicotine thresholds' can be exceeded turning them into nicotine addicts.

I think that answers the question in your last paragraph.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

Now I have a headache. Don't know if it's related to you causing me to sniff drugs this afternoon but I'll be curing it by quaffing some Chortle's Edge Shiraz I was given last night.

Anonymous said...

i have heard that that nasal (dry) snuff sales are completely banned in the state of victoria. is that true?

hc said...

I think so. I heard Victoria has some unique regulations but cannot track them down.

Sam Ward said...

"Banning Swedish snus but allowing the continued sale of smoking cigarettes provides a regulatory bias that delivers monopoly power to the lethal tobacco industry. Such regulations, globally, are directly responsible for millions of deaths given that there are much safe alternatives to smoking cigarettes."

Wowsers aren't rational Harry. As I've been telling you for years, it's not about harm reduction.

If you think wowsers give two shits about the health of smokers then you are severely deluded.

They see it as a moral failing and wish to see it banned because having to look at disgusting people who smoke reduces their enjoyment of life.

This is why snus is banned but cigarettes are still legal - despite snus being much safer.

They banned snus because they could. They can't ban cigarettes or they would ban them too. And then they'd move onto alcohol, video games, premarital sex and bikinis.

Anonymous said...

I quit smoking buy ordering swedish snus online, and late last year the goverment increased the duty on moist snus to the same as dried cigarette tocacco (around $300 per kilo) effectively stopping people from using snus as a whole roll will be $150 tax+gst.
The government makes too much money from people smoking.

The Snuffman said...

I have recently been a convert to nasal snuff tobacco and have set up the website

I am currently adding to the section about the health affects of snuff tobacco as it seems there is little information available about this. I will add all the information that I can find over the net to the health section so if anyone has any contributions please send me the links or login and add them yourselves.

Nasal snuff is often confused with chewing or oral snuff, and unfortunately there is little information about the long term health affects of using snuff.

Personally I believe in the principle of harm reduction and taking a pinch of snuff or two on the odd occassion is going to be a lot better for you than smoking 20 cigarettes a day. I also think that it would be fairly difficult to get a big snuff habit as it is just not something that you are going to take large amounts of.

Snuff is more of a social habit than smoking - it doesn't have detrimental affects on others health and you can involve many other people by passing around the snuff tin and following the centuries old traditions and snuff etiquette. Afterall, snuff was here before the cigarette.

I also want to add a section about snuff use around the world so if anyone has info on current snuff use in Australia then please drop me a note.

Happy Snuffin'

roderick said...

I discovered your site after yet another Australian tobacco agent told me he could not take an agency from my nasal snuff company because nasal snuff is banned in Australia. I regularly post nasal snuff to Australia and have never had a problem. Could you tell me is nasal snuff banned?

hc said...

I think it is banned for sale in most states and teritories.

Snuff Tobacco said...

We've been posting Snuff Tobacco to Australian customers without any problems.

The only hold-up being sometimes caused by Australian Customs, who have been occasionally adding a import tax of a few cents per gram of tobacco.

One customer told me that when he went to pay this 'duty', the customs official was very interested in his snuff delivery and actually asked to have a try!

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Tennex said...

Hi I am a user of skoal chewing tobacco.

I buy it online like most users here in Australia. The problem is when you run out if your delivery is late. Happens to us all from time to time.

I have set up a blog for users to find another user to exchange with each other when you run out.

Chewing Tobacco can't be sold here but I cant see a problem with swapping cans when you run out.

The blog is here

Just started it today!