Camel Snus

Monitoring Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines and Nicotine in Novel Marlboro and Camel Smokeless Tobacco Products: Findings From Round 1 of the New Product Watch



Introduction: Information on chemical composition of the new oral “spitless” smokeless tobacco products is scarce, and it is not clear whether there is some variability as a function of purchase place or time due to either unintended or intended manufacturing variations or other conditions.

Methods: We analyzed tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNA) and nicotine in Marlboro Snus, Camel Snus, and dissolvable Camel products Orbs, Sticks, and Strips that were purchased in various regions of the country during the summer of 2010.

Results: A total of 117 samples were received from different states representing six regions of the country. Levels of unprotonated nicotine in Marlboro Snus and Camel Snus varied significantly by regions, with the differences between the highest and the lowest average regional levels being relatively small in Marlboro Snus (∼1.3-fold) and large in Camel Snus (∼3-fold). Some regional variations in TSNA levels were also observed. Overall, Camel Snus had significantly higher TSNA levels than Marlboro Snus, and Camel Strips had the lowest TSNA levels among all novel products analyzed here. The amount of unprotonated nicotine in the dissolvable Camel products was comparable to the levels found in Marlboro Snus.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates some regional variations in the levels of nicotine and TSNA in Marlboro and Camel novel smokeless tobacco products. Continued monitoring of this category of products is needed as the existing products are being test marketed and modified, and new products are being introduced. This information is particularly important given its relevance to Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

October, 2011|Oral Cancer News|

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. launches new advertising campaign

Source: The Business Journal

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has launched a new advertising campaign for its smoke-free Camel Snus that’s timed to coincide with a broader New York City smoking ban that goes into effect next week.

The ads include language such as “NYC Smokers enjoy the freedom without the flame” and “NYC smokers rise above the ban,” and are scheduled to appear next week in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other major daily newspapers, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in February signed into a law a wider ban that would prohibit smoking in city parks, beaches, public plazas and boardwalks, and the new ban goes into effect Monday.

Greensboro is another community consider an expansion of its indoor smoking ban to include parks and outdoor recreation facilities. That push is being led by the Cone Health Foundation, and the Greensboro City Commission is in the process of getting feedback from residents. Raleigh adopted a smoking ban in city parks in February that goes into effect this summer, but exempts smokeless tobacco.

Daan Delen, the president and CEO of Reynolds American (NYSE: RAI), the parent company of RJR, has said that the company is ramping up its promotion of its products like Snus, which is a moist powder tobacco, and dissolvable tobacco products. Read an earlier Business Journal interview with Delen here.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

Wrong way to go smoke-free

By: Joseph G.L. Lee

CHAPEL HILL — So, now R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company wants to help smokers “break free” from tobacco? That statement should make parents, health care providers and smokers nervous.

Last month, Reynolds promoted its Camel Snus (a “spit-free” tobacco pouch) with advertisements in national magazines that read “If you’ve decided to quit tobacco use, we support you,” under a large “2011 Smoke-free Resolution” banner. Reynolds then offered its smoke-free snus as the solution.

For smokers, the majority of whom try to quit every year, the message should be to quit tobacco use, not to substitute one form of cancer for another. No safe form of tobacco use exists. Smokers who try tobacco snus products are at high risk of becoming addicted to both cigarettes and snus, thus continuing or even adding to their risk for lung, bladder, breast, cervical, oral and pancreatic cancer.

In addition to running these misleading ads in People, Time and Rolling Stone, R.J. Reynolds is continuing a long-standing practice of targeting vulnerable populations such as young people, African-Americans and gays and lesbians.

Last year, research in the medical journal Pediatrics implicated Reynolds’ “Camel No. 9” campaign in an increase in smoking among young teenage girls.

The tobacco industry has long targeted African-Americans by focusing on marketing and so-called “corporate social responsibility” strategies to buy favor with civil rights organizations. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco estimated that the approximately $25 million in tobacco industry corporate philanthropy that funded African-American community groups, when divided by the number of premature deaths from tobacco in black communities, meant that each African-American death was traded for $555 in corporate support.

In December, a court in Massachusetts found Lorillard, Inc., liable fortargeting black teenagers with free samples of menthol cigarettes.

Now, Reynolds has begun targeting gay and lesbian newspapers across the country.

Our own research at UNC-Chapel Hill shows that gays and lesbians are 50 percent to 100 percent more likely to smoke and thus to die much earlier from tobacco-related diseases. We recently conducted surveys in gay and lesbian bars and Pride Festivals in West Virginia in which 45 percent of those surveyed reported using a tobacco product. These rates of tobacco, cigarettes and snus use are alarming and likely even higher among transgender populations.

Researchers have documented that industry-designed youth prevention programs actually increase youth susceptibility to trying cigarettes. New campaigns that promise a smoke-free life by promoting other addictive tobacco products will likely keep more people addicted to tobacco.

Smokers who want to quit for real should talk to their health care providers, make a quit plan and call the free Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW or visit

The evidence is clear: advertisements from the tobacco industry sell death, half-truths and promote health inequalities. Federal judges have let stand industry racketeering convictions resulting from conspiracy to hide health consequences of smoking. Smokers’ resolutions to quit should not be co-opted into deeper addiction by industry advertising.

February, 2011|Oral Cancer News|

Tobacco manufacturers must report ingredients to FDA

Author: Richard Craver

The Food and Drug Administration is giving tobacco manufacturers less than three months to provide proof that any product introduced since February 2007 is “substantially equivalent” to products already in the marketplace.

If a manufacturer does not file a report by March 22, or cannot substantiate its evidence, the FDA said Wednesday that it could remove the product from store shelves.

The announcement updated the guidance provided to manufacturers in June 2009 as part of enacting the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Manufacturers of any product introduced after March 22 must submit an application and obtain a marketing order from the FDA before placing the product on the market.

The emphasis of the new rules puts R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in the bull’s-eye because it has been the most prolific developer of tobacco products in recent years, including Camel Snus and the Camel orbs, sticks and filmlike strips for the tongue.

“No known existing tobacco product is safe, and a market order issued by the FDA for these products should never be interpreted as such,” said Dr. Lawrence Deyton, the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

“These products will not be safer, but we are required by this law to not allow even more dangerous products to cause further harm to those Americans who use tobacco products.”

The FDA defined “substantially equivalent” as “being the same in terms of ingredients, design, composition, heating source and other characteristics to an existing, single-predicate product or have different characteristics, but not raise different questions of public health.”

Manufacturers that submit evidence will be allowed to continue to market their products “unless the FDA issues an order finding the product to be not substantially equivalent” to the product already in the marketplace.

Bill Godshall, the executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, said he would not be surprised if the FDA uses the substantially-equivalent requirement “to try to ban many or most new tobacco products, especially the least hazardous ones.”

“The FDA could claim that substantially equivalent means virtually identical, and/or that a slightly different color, shape, size or even a 5 percent difference in any constituent means the products aren’t substantially equivalent,’ Godshall said.

The new rules likely cover the dissolvable Camel products that Reynolds placed in test markets in January 2009. Reynolds recently said it is reconfiguring the test markets.

Maura Payne, a spokeswoman for Reynolds, said in June 2009 that the products are substantially equivalent to dissolvables sold by Star Scientific Inc.’s Ariva and Stonewall.

It is not clear whether the rules apply to Camel Snus. Reynolds began test markets for Camel Snus in June 2006 before taking it national in January 2009.

Analysts said that any substantial changes to Camel Snus, including potentially new or altered flavoring, could make it susceptible to the new rules.

Dr. John Spangler, a professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, said that the FDA has clarified its guidance with the update.

“For example, now the FDA states that a new public-health question is whether use of the new product induces nonsmokers to start smoking,” Spangler said. “This could pose a roadblock to the introduction of new products if the FDA abides by this strict standard.”

Both Reynolds and Altria Group Inc., which owns Philip Morris USA, said they are reviewing the FDA guidance.

“We have submitted several applications on substantial equivalence to the FDA, and we look forward to working together with the FDA on the applications we have submitted, as well as the development of the guidance and proposed rulemaking on exemptions to the substantial-equivalence process,” said David Howard, a Reynolds spokesman.

In April, Reynolds complied with an FDA request for information about its dissolvable products.

Deyton wrote in a letter to Reynolds that the Center for Tobacco Products was concerned that “brightly colored” packaging and the “candylike appearance” of the products may appeal to children, as well as “facilitate initiation of tobacco use, nicotine dependence and addiction in adolescents.”

Stephen Pope, an industry analyst and the managing partner of Spotlight Ideas in England, said manufacturers face a steep hurdle in trying to get past the FDA requirement that a new product doesn’t compel a non-tobacco consumer into use.

“Thinking of tobacco use, of course, the main thrust is that if a product claims to provide all the taste, flavor and enjoyment of a previously available product — with the benefit of a reduced risk — then it may entice more new smokers than would otherwise have been the case,” Pope said.

“In my view, the FDA wants to reopen the test books, just to be sure that all that should have been done has been done, and done with vim and rigor.”

January, 2011|Oral Cancer News|

Reynolds targets smokers trying to quit with new snus campaign

Author: staff

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. wants cigarette smokers to consider Snus if they are trying to quit.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the giant tobacco company has launched a national campaign marketing Camel Snus as a potential New Year’s Resolution solution for smokers. It’s the company’s first campaign aimed specifically at encouraging smokers to switch to Camel Snus, according to David Howard, a Reynolds spokesman.

“A lot of adults make a decision to quit smoking this time of the year,” said Howard in the report. “For those making that attempt, but still wanting the pleasure of tobacco, we’re saying ‘Here’s an option.”

Reynolds has run ads in large-circulation magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, Time and US Weekly, as well as free and alternative publications, according to the report.

In the “2011 smoke-free resolution” ad, Reynolds said it supports smokers who have decided to quit using tobacco. “But if you’re looking for smoke-free, spit-free, drama-free tobacco pleasure, Camel Snus is your answer,” the ad’s text reads.

The ads also contain a large warning that “smokeless tobacco is addictive.”

Howard said that the “drama-free” reference is aimed at adults who want to use tobacco products in restaurants, bars and other social outlets where smoking is discouraged or banned.

Reynolds’ print ads are part of a “take the pleasure switch challenge” campaign tied to an age-restricted Camel Snus Web site.

As might have been expected, some anti-smoking groups are upset by the ads.

“The ads are trying to take advantage of people trying to end all uses of tobacco,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “If a smoker does that, switch to smokeless, they’ll be worse off than if they had quit.”

Snus comes in a small pouch that is placed between the lip and gum. The tobacco is pasteurized, not fermented, and it contains less moisture and salt than moist snuff. It also does not require the consumer to spit.

Although Reynolds does not dictate the price of Camel Snus at retail, the price is comparable to a premium pack of cigarettes, which typically sells for $4 to $4.50 in North Carolina.

Reynolds began its first trial of Camel Snus in April 2006, with national distribution commencing in January 2009. The ads do not make any claims of reduced health risks with a potential switch.

Some anti-smoking advocates are encouraging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow the advertising of smokeless tobacco as less harmful than cigarettes if such claims can be proven through research. But other anti-tobacco advocates oppose marketing smokeless products under cigarettes’ brand names because of those brands’ appeal to youth, according to the Winston-Salem Journal report.

December, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Smokeless tobacco picking up steam — Products growing in popularity as smokers turn to cheaper and less obtrusive alternatives

Source: Los Angeles Times

By: Julie Wernau

Ron Carroll prefers to smoke cigars and pipes. But when he can’t do that he says he manages to unobtrusively get his nicotine fix by slipping a packet of tobacco, about the size of a teabag, under his upper lip.

“I use it all the time — movies, planes,” said the Chicagoan, who adds that he likes the fact he can remove the packet as easily as a piece of gum. There’s no chewing, spitting or mess, he says.

“It’s discreet, and you don’t look like an addict, he said. “Smoking’s definitely more about the flavor; the whole experience,” Carroll said. “With this, it’s just taking the edge off.”

Cigarette sales by volume have plummeted 17 percent from 2005, partly the result of health warnings and bans on smoking in public places as well as taxation by local and federal governments. And the heat on cigarette smokers is expected to intensify as the federal Food and Drug Administration requires images of corpses and diseased lungs to be featured on cigarette packs in two years.

Smokeless tobacco products — which come in shapes ranging from toothpicks to orbs and in flavors from cherry to peach — so far have not met with the same intense scrutiny, although there have been some changes. In June, the FDA increased the size of warning labels on smokeless products. “This product is addictive” and “This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes,” say the warnings.

Scientists say that overall, smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes, in large part because of a reduced risk of lung cancer. But medical experts agree that quitting tobacco altogether is the best alternative.

The FDA won’t report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services until 2012 on whether such products pose a threat to adolescents and children.

In a letter to tobacco-maker R.J. Reynolds in February, Lawrence Dayton, director for the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, expressed concern that the Camel dissolvables line — which includes tobacco strips that dissolve in the mouth, sticks that resemble toothpicks and orbs that look like hard candy — could be appealing to children and adolescents.

“Absolutely none of us, no one, wants kids to smoke or to use tobacco products,” said Todd Holbrook, senior director of marketing for Camel Snus, at Reynolds.

Sherry Emery, senior scientist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has conducted focus groups on smoking products and said smoking tends to appeal to young people because it is visible, not because it is invisible. “Smoking is still very much a social behavior,” she said. “Smokeless tobacco is not social; the idea is to conceal it.”

While smokeless products represented just 6 percent of all tobacco sales in 2009, the market is growing at a rate of about 7 percent a year. Sales of smokeless tobacco products in 2010 are expected to total about $4.8 billion, according to Chicago-based Morningstar, which calculated that figure based on a year-over-year growth rate of 7 percent.

One of the reasons for the uptick is that “now you can consume products without anybody else being aware of it,” said Phil Gorham, a Morningstar analyst who follows the tobacco industry. He also said economic factors are driving people to quit or to switch to smokeless products. “We’ve had a big tax increase both on the federal and state level on cigarettes, and it’s becoming more expensive to smoke in some states,” he said.

At one retailer in Chicago, a pack of Marlboro was $10, with state, county and city excise taxes included, whereas a can of premium Swedish snus was $5.27 after taxes.

Gorham also said the growing array of smokeless tobacco products also has helped grow the market. “Going back a few years, smokeless products — all there really was the moist tobacco products that baseball players used, where you had to spit out the juice,” he said.

For the first time, viable alternatives exist, said Jason Healy, who founded an electronic cigarette company called Blu Cigs in 2009 in response to what he said has been a movement to treat smokers like “lepers.”

“Everyone’s been looking for the Holy Grail that allows you to smoke without everything that everyone’s concerned about,” Healy said.

Big Tobacco has taken notice. Between 2006 and 2009, the country’s two largest tobacco companies by market share — Altria Group and Reynolds American Inc. — acquired smokeless tobacco companies that together give them about 90 percent of the U.S. market share in that category.

The tobacco companies have begun branding smokeless products with traditional cigarette brand names such as Marlboro and Camel to lure disenfranchised smokers.

“Use of a well-defined brand name is more likely to make a smoker consider trying a category they’ve never tried before,” said Maura Payne, spokeswoman for Reynolds American, which began testing in certain markets Camel brand tobacco products that dissolve like hard candy.

In 2009, Altria Group’s Marlboro Snus and Reynolds’ Camel Snus made the national scene. Snus comes in small tea-bag like sachets that are placed in the mouth but don’t need to be chewed for the user to absorb the nicotine. Snus is pasteurized and refrigerated instead of fermented, a process that significantly lowers the levels of carcinogens that lead to mouth cancers.

The Snus market saw 28 percent year-over-year growth by volume in 2009, according to Euromonitor.

Chuck Levy, owner of Iwan Ries & Co., a fifth-generation family-owned tobacco purveyor at Wabash and Madison that’s home to one of the city’s only surviving legal smoking lounges, said he used to carry Marlboro and Camel Snus. But he said they didn’t sell as well as General Snus, a popular Swedish brand.

“We sell it to young people, old people. They come in suits as well as jeans,” he said.

With smoking bans in place, Levy said, many are looking for a replacement that can also give them the oral sensation they get from smoking.

Smokeless products also help adhere to smoking policies. Douglas Luke, director of the Center for Tobacco Policy Research at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “The smoke-free policies tend to be around protecting people from exposure to secondhand smoke. So, since smokeless products don’t have that, the gold standards are silent on that.”

Dr. Frank Leone, director of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center’s Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program, said smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes are a way for cigarette smokers to prolong their addiction to nicotine. It’s what he calls the “compromise position” — not as healthy as quitting, but not as unhealthy as smoking.

“It’s much more likely that people will find and seek out that compromise position than stop altogether,” he said.

While Leone said smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes, that advantage may be done-in by the frequency of use. That’s because some smokers who have cut back because of smoking bans, may be consuming smokeless tobacco all day long, between cigarettes.

Traditional chewing tobacco has been shown to cause mouth, tongue, lip, jaw and even bladder cancers, said Leone. And like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco use can lead to a host of cardiovascular diseases although to a lesser extent, he said. While several studies show a decreased risk of cancer for those who use Snus over traditional fermented tobacco, little is known about its cardiovascular effects, he said.

Adam Johnson said he could smoke 50 hours a week if he wasn’t careful. Usually a pipe smoker, Johnson uses Snus packets throughout the day, he says, to stop himself from smoking too much.

“With (smoking) tobacco, I say I’m doing it for the flavor. This is — you can get a dose of nicotine while you’re helping a customer who doesn’t smoke, and they won’t even know it,” said Johnson.

Reynolds’ Holbrook said consumers are moving to smokeless because it offers freedom and choice that cigarettes can no longer offer.

“They’re looking for options where they can continue to enjoy tobacco on their terms, and they have control of the situation. They want tobacco that can be enjoyed at a bar or a nightclub,” he said.

December, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Which new tobacco products are scoring?

Source: CSP
Author: Mitch Morrison

OAK BROOK, Ill. — Camel Snus continues to ride a wave of loyal national support as R.J. Reynolds extends its marketing focus to oral tobacco consumption. In an exclusive CSP-UBS tobacco survey, retailers praised Camel’s Snus product as well as Camel Crush, the company’s customizable cigarette that contains a small blue menthol capsule within the filter.

“Camel Snus—extremely aggressive and the first to market in this new and growing category,” a Virginia retailer said of the smokeless, spitless product. “‘Fill the Fridge’ is a good concept.”

Added a retailer from Iowa: “Snus continues to be a growth driver. Camel did a really good job out of the chute with its initial launch and now Marlboro has gotten into the game as well.”

Indeed, more than half of the 50-plus respondents cited the snus segment as a strong nascent player that is slowly gaining recognition and consumer acceptance.

Another winner was Marlboro, which scored well with its Marlboro 72, Marlboro Special Blend and Copenhagen Wintergreen smokeless tobacco. “Marlboro Special Blend and 72s have done exceptionally well in our area with an attractive price,” an Arkansas operator said.

Others receiving praise included Liggett’s private-label lines, Star Scientific’s Stonewall spitless, Reynold’s Natural American Spirit and the broader smokeless tobacco category.

“Camel is doing a great job in building awareness for the Snus category,” said UBS tobacco analyst Nik Modi. “PM USA had great traction with its Marlboro Special Blend, but we wonder how the brand will respond to a pull back in promotional support.”

Faring Poorer

Of course, there is the flip side. That does not mean these products will not succeed or find their niche, but at this time, they are not yielding the gains retailers had hoped. Likewise, some products that generally scored favorably, like Camel Snus or Marlboro Special Blend, also garnered a few detractors.

The most cited on scoring poor traction was Marlboro Snus, Altria’s foray to extend the dominant cigarette brand into the oral, spitless tobacco line.

“Marlboro Snus followed the footsteps of RJR and Camel Snus,” said an East Coast merchant. It “has the brand name, but not the quality or perceived freshness (like Camel Snus) to back it up and help grow sales.”

Another retailer praised the performance of Marlboro’s Special Blend, but, like UBS’s Modi, feared some of the sales were attributed to discount pricing. “When on deal it sells but off deal the customer leaves the product behind,” said a Connecticut operator. “I am concerned that PM’s line extensions on Marlboro have the consumer confused. I worry about ‘opening Pandora’s box.’ When the deep-discount deals end on a new Marlboro facing I find that customer, for the first time, is willing to look at other ‘deals’ that may not be Marlboro deals.”

A few respondents said the whole line of spitless is underperforming, a couple dismissed Camel Snus and one dismissed the entire notion of electronic cigarettes. And another retailer dismissed virtually all new products, lamenting, “most all new innovation has seemed to be anemic.”

July, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Tobacco road takes a turn to the smokeless

Author: Kevin Helliker

About 18 months ago, Russell Stevens gave up cigarettes and took up a new habit — placing between his lip and gum a tiny pouch of smokeless tobacco called Camel Snus. The 26-year-old Kentuckian says it satisfies his craving for nicotine while exposing him to far fewer risks than did smoking.

Like Mr. Stevens, more Americans are continuing to give up smoking, helping to push cigarette consumption down about 3% each year. To help kick the habit, many smokers turn to safer sources of nicotine — the addictive but non-carcinogenic ingredient in cigarettes — such as nicotine gum, patches or lozenges.

But one method that has been gaining ground as a safer alternative to cigarettes — smokeless tobacco — remains controversial. A decades-old federal law requires smokeless tobacco to carry a label warning that it is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. The perils include possibly increased risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. And U.S. public-health officials note that no clinical trials have been conducted showing that smokeless tobacco is an effective quitting aid. Adding to the controversy: Some of the biggest cigarette makers are jumping into the non-combustible market.

“There is no evidence that smokers will switch to smokeless tobacco products and give up smoking,” Michael Thun, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, said in a recent article in the journal CA.

Still, popular brands of smokeless tobacco generally contain far fewer carcinogens than do cigarettes, although some studies indicate the habit isn’t risk-free. One recent study showed that some newer brands, with names like Ariva, Camel Snus and Marlboro Snus, have sharply lower levels of a dangerous carcinogen than do older varieties of smokeless tobacco, such as Copenhagen and Skoal. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, which sets health standards in the United Kingdom, has said smokeless tobacco is between one-tenth and one-one thousandth as hazardous as smoking, depending on the specific product. As with all nicotine-replacement products, smokeless tobacco can lead to addiction.

Morgan Stanley estimates that U.S. consumers spent $4.77 billion on smokeless tobacco in 2007 versus $78 billion on cigarettes. Smokeless-tobacco sales have been increasing about 5% or more a year.

Some switchers say the benefits of smokeless tobacco can be immediate and dramatic. After 30 years of smoking more than a pack a day, Deborah Barr required several respiratory medications just to breathe. An analysis of her lung capacity shocked her physician. “He said, ‘I’ve never seen anybody this bad,’ ” recalls Mrs. Barr, 53, of Richmond, Va. So she switched to Ariva, a tobacco pellet that dissolves in the mouth. “Within three days I could breathe without medication,” says Mrs. Barr, who smoked her last cigarette four years ago and still uses Ariva.

No Spitting
For many people, smokeless tobacco conjures up an image of a wad of chewing tobacco bulging from the cheeks of users who spit brown juice. Instead, recent products consist of dissolvable pellets or tiny pouches of tobacco that reside invisibly in the mouth and induce no spitting. The model for these new brands comes from Sweden, where use of spit-free smokeless tobacco, called snus, is more common among men than smoking.

Studies of Swedish snus users have found no elevated incidence of mouth cancer compared with the general population. Other studies, however, have linked snus consumption to cardiovascular disease, albeit at rates far below the risks of smoking, and some research has found a minor link with pancreatic cancer. Many of the studies were performed by the Swedish government, which discourages the use of snus and cigarettes.

Big U.S. cigarette makers have been staking out the smokeless tobacco field. Altria Group Inc., the nation’s largest cigarette maker, this month completed its $10.3 billion purchase of UST Inc., the biggest smokeless-tobacco maker and owner of the Copenhagen and Skoal brands. Reynolds American Inc., which owns Conwood Co., a discount smokeless purveyor, this month announced that the Camel Snus brand has performed well enough in test markets to warrant national distribution. Marlboro Snus is available in a few test markets.

“There are probably in excess of 400,000 adults switching to smokeless each year,” says Seth Moskowitz, a spokesman for Reynolds American. But the company doesn’t know whether switchers succeeded in permanently giving up their previous form of tobacco.

Tommy Payne, Reynolds American’s executive vice president of public affairs, says that he himself is a Camel Snus user. When asked, he says the product helped him successfully quit smoking, a habit he says he had practiced for “too long.”

Cutting Nitrosamines
A federally funded study by the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center found that Camel Snus, made by Reynolds American unit R.J. Reynolds, and Marlboro Snus, made by Altria’s Philip Morris unit, bear substantially lower levels of nitrosamines, the class of carcinogen that most concerns public-health officials, than do traditional brands. The study, published in the December issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a leading journal of researchers battling tobacco-caused disease, was similar to one done in 2006 measuring the carcinogen in Ariva and Stonewall, two smokeless-tobacco products made by tiny Star Scientific Inc.

“The reduction in carcinogenic…content in the new smokeless tobacco is encouraging,” concluded the authors, none of whom had financial ties to industry.

The December study also found that Marlboro Snus contained a very low level of nicotine. By contrast, Camel Snus offers a jolt of nicotine that “has the potential to satisfy those smokers who are looking for a substitute to smoking, and to keep them addicted to this product,” the authors said.

An Altria spokesman says the nicotine level of Marlboro Snus has been increased. “Our interest is offering Marlboro Snus to adult smokers who are interested in a smokeless alternative to cigarettes,” the spokesman says.

Purveyors of smokeless tobacco aren’t marketing it as a smoking-cessation aid, because doing so could force it off the shelves as an unapproved medical treatment. Makers of the products are beginning to push back against such limitations, although they haven’t yet altered their marketing pitches.

Star Scientific this month announced that a study it conducted of smokers in withdrawal found that its Stonewall smokeless tobacco and a nicotine lozenge, used separately, proved to be “much more effective” than placebos at satisfying cravings. And Reynolds American is calling for public-health officials to talk openly about the lower risks of non-combustible tobacco products. “I believe that governments, public-health associations, tobacco manufacturers and others should provide consumers with accurate information, based on sound science, on the different levels of risks posed by different types of tobacco products,” Susan Ivey, chairman of Reynolds American, said in a speech last year at the University of Arkansas.

Some smokers on their own have long viewed smokeless tobacco as a way out of their habit. During medical school in the early 1970s, Michael Moore was trying without luck to kick cigarettes when a fellow nicotine addict recommended that he switch to smokeless tobacco. The Minneapolis resident stopped smoking and used smokeless tobacco for decades, quitting two years ago at the urging of his loved ones. “I never saw anything in the scientific literature that convinced me it was very dangerous,” says Dr. Moore. As a psychiatrist, however, he concedes that rationalization is a symptom of addiction. Dr. Moore says he has no connection to anti-tobacco causes, although his father, a scientist, years ago contributed to research linking cigarettes to disease.

January, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Health officials not convinced snus will help smokers quit

Author: staff

They’re discreet, flavorful and come in cute tin boxes with names like ”frost” and ”spice.” And the folks who created Joe Camel are hoping Camel Snus will become a hit with tobacco lovers tired of being forced outside for a smoke.

But convincing health officials and smokers like Ethan Flint that they’re worth a try may take some work.

Snus – Swedish for tobacco, rhymes with ”noose” – is a tiny, tea bag-like pouch of steam-pasteurized, smokeless tobacco to tuck between the cheek and gum. Aromatic to the user and undetectable to anyone else, it promises a hit of nicotine without the messy spitting associated with chewing tobacco. Just swallow the juice.

”I think I’d rather throw up in my mouth,” says Flint, an 18-year-old West Virginia University student, emerging from a convenience store with a pack of Winstons and a coupon for free Camel Snus. ”I’d rather not swallow anything like that.”

Reynolds America Inc., the nation’s No. 2 tobacco company, can also expect resistance from the public health community. Experts wonder whether snus will help wean people off cigarettes and snuff, or just foster a second addiction. While snus has been around, it hasn’t been prominent in this country.

”I think we’re all holding our breath in terms of what’s going to be coming down the pike,” says Dorothy Hatsukami, director of the Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Minnesota. ”There’s not much known about these products – what’s in these products, how they’re going to be used, who’s going to be using them and what the effects of that use will be. … Will it create more harm or less harm?”

Reynolds is confident its new product will find a following. It launched Camel Snus in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Ore., in 2006, and has since expanded to test markets nationwide, with customers in nearly every state. Early next year, it’s taking snus national with a marketing blitz that spokesman David Howard says will include direct mail, print and Web advertising, and point-of-sale promotions.

Popular for decades in Sweden, where it was invented, snus has been banned in every other European Union nation since 2004 over concerns about carcinogens.

But smokeless tobacco is legal in the U.S., where there are two schools of thought: Some researchers suggest the lower risk of lung cancer makes snus an attractive alternative to smoking, while others fear an increase in problems including mouth lesions or pancreatic cancer.

The American Cancer Society supports any tool that helps smokers quit. ”But we don’t have any good scientific evidence that snus is one of those tools,” said Tom Glynn, director of cancer science and trends.

”If all smokers switched to snus tomorrow, in a few years we’d certainly see less heart disease, less lung disease and fewer cancers,” he said. ”But there’s no evidence that smokers can switch and stay switched.”

Prevention officials already have their work cut out for them in West Virginia, which has the third-highest adult smoking rate in the U.S. at nearly 27 percent and the highest rate of ”spit” or chewing tobacco use at 16 percent.

”The industry is brilliant, and whatever they want to outspend us by – $1 million, $10 million, $100 million – they can do it,” said Bruce Adkins of the state Division of Tobacco Prevention.

To sustain its current level of sales and combat tobacco-related deaths, Adkins says, the industry must find 4,000 ”replacement smokers” a year in West Virginia alone.

U.S. tobacco companies developed snus in response to both declining cigarette sales and consumer demand. With more public bans on puffing, they say smokers need socially acceptable alternatives.

Danny Wolfe, a 38-year-old computer draftsman, gave up regular spit tobacco and has been using Copenhagen tobacco pouches for several years. He spits out the juice; it gives him heartburn.

”It’s the same product, just packaged differently. It doesn’t get in your teeth. It doesn’t have the mess,” says Wolfe, who was sick of smoking outside his Morgantown office. ”You’re not quitting anything. You’re replacing.”

Snus is also popular with hunters, who try to avoid scent detection by their prey, and with coal miners, who work in underground mines where the smallest spark can trigger an explosion.

”I find that more rednecks use it,” Wolfe says. ”I won’t lie to you about that.”

At least two tobacco companies besides Reynolds are also test-marketing snus.

”There’s no secondhand smoke. There’s no spitting. We see it as a win-win,” says Howard, the Reynolds spokesman. ”It’s also in line with company strategy. We’re moving toward becoming a total tobacco company.”

Reynolds is even developing dissolvable tobacco strips, orbs and sticks that it will start test-marketing early next year in Portland, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.

Though ”very appealing” in form and flavor, Hatsukami also finds those products worrisome.

Researchers have little information about nicotine absorption and toxicity for any of the new products, she says, and there’s too little data on snus to make per-dose comparisons to cigarettes or spit tobacco.

Still, Camel Snus recently tested by WVU contained at least two carcinogens.

”It’s not like chewing gum,” warns Robert Anderson, deputy director of West Virginia University’s Prevention Research Center. ”This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”

And because its use is easy to conceal, WVU researcher Cindy Tworek worries children could suck on the pouches in front of oblivious parents or teachers. The brightly colored tins seem designed to attract both female and young users, she says.

The same age restrictions that apply to other forms of tobacco also apply to sales of snus, although they vary from state to state.

November, 2008|Oral Cancer News|