Saturday, April 28, 2007

Smokeless tobacco users

I received the following letter from a Dave Fullarton who claims to represent smokeless tobacco users in Australia. As far as I can judge his claims are valid and I am happy to give these claims publicity. In my view it is better if you don't use tobacco products in any form. But of the Australian population aged 14+ around 17.4% do smoke. Half of these people will die of tobacco-related diseases and, on average, each person will lose 10 years of their life because of smoking.

My own reading supports Dave's claims that the risks associated with smokeless tobacco products are miniscule compared to smoked tobacco.

Basically smoking tobacco is like using a 'dirty syringe' - it is a dirty way of getting nicotine to a user's brain because it combines the administration of nicotine (a comparatively harmless chemical) with in the inhalation well-known carcinogens such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines. It is far better from a health perspective to use smokeless tobacco or one of the nicotine replacement therapies (e.g. Nicorette) than to smoke cigarettes.

I've been prepariuing a longer study on smokeless tobacco products which I hope to post in outline form soon. In my view these products offer the best way of attacking the health problems associated with smoking - at least for those addicted to nicotine who find they cannot give up.

Copy of letter.

27th April 2007

Dear Harry

As President of the Smokeless Tobacco Action Group (STAG) I wish to introduce our organisation and in doing so communicate our goals. We established STAG in 1998 with the intention of representing US and some Swedish smokeless tobacco (S/T) users in an effort to achieve the following goals:

For tobacco control experts to recognise that western smokeless tobacco is a harm Reduction measure for smokers who cannot quit;

For Australian Governments to reverse legislation banning the import and sale of S/T products; and for S/T products to be taxed fairly as a low risk tobacco product.
As you can imagine, this has been a prolonged and sometimes frustrating endeavour but we are spurred on by the knowledge of the following facts.

There are up to 20,000 smokeless tobacco users in Australia.

Because of the recent customs tariff increase (from $2.33 to $290.74 per kilo) most S/T users are now smoking.

World respected research indicates that moist snuff (US and Swedish) is 98% safer than smoking.

Our first step is to get Customs and Treasury to drop the customs tariff down to a reasonable level taking into consideration (1) the extra water content in moist snuff making it much heavier than smoking tobacco and (2) S/T being 98% safer than smoking tobacco.

Federal Health have agreed with us on most points and have backed us but also suggested that the customs tariff is out of their hands.

6 months ago most politicians had no idea what snuff was and the hardest thing is to get them to read the research material we send them.

Having said that, we do have some Federal and State politicians who have indicated their support. Please let me know if you have any specific queries that I can help you with.

David Fullarton

Update: New Zealand has a similar group with an interesting website here.


Francis Xavier Holden said...

David. I can only largely agree.

We seem to lack an enlightened harm minimisation approach to smoking here in oz.

harry - I swear I'm not making this up - - the word verification for this post is "hvc nong". I'm hoping your second name isn't Victor?

Diamond said...

We are totally opposed to smoking. Lynettea's sister died a couple of years ago of lung cancer at 56. She contracted it according to the specialist through breathing in other people's smoke, as she never smoked. It is not a pleasant death.
best wishes

Sam Ward said...

Your "specialist" is a lying huckster with an agenda.

hc said...


I assume you are writing of Mr Fullarton. You will notice that bolded on the 4th line were the words - these claims. Its the claims about the safety of the products I support - I don't know what other issues arise here, commercial or other.

I don't know David Fullerton at all. You offer no evidence. It you wanted to send me an email I'd be interested.

Anonymous said...

I though you would be interested in a small UK pharma company called Meldex International that has developed an oral film strip that gives a hit of nicotine virtually as fast as a cigarette! They have other formats such as a lozenge (called Meltums) for sustained release. They announced on 05 November 07 that they are launching it in Poland, China and India in 2008.
Here is a link to the announcement:

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