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