As I usually do, I watched 60 Minutes last night. I was totally astounded by my lack of knowledge about the product presented by the Leslie Stahl piece called Snus (pronounced "snoos” with a soft final s).
It is a packet that is similar to snuff packets sold by several tobacco purveyors, but apparently doesn’t produce the same vile brown saliva that regular snuff does, and as such was marketed as being a beneficial product to those who smoke. This is similar to asking a person if they would prefer being shot dead by way of a 44 Magnum, or shot strategically with a 22 caliber pistol, and bleeding to death slowly.
From Wikipedia, a more complete description –
Snus (pronounced /ˈsnuːs/) is a moist powder tobacco product originated from a variant of dry snuff, in the early 19th century in Sweden, consumed by placing it under the lip for extended periods of time. However the precursor of snus, the dry form of snuff inhaled through the nose, was introduced in Europe much earlier. Snus is a form of snuff that is used in a manner similar to American dipping tobacco, but typically does not result in the need for spitting. Snus is also unique in that it is steam-cured rather than fire-cured, is not fermented and contains no added sugar. The sale of snus is illegal in the European Union, but due to exemptions, it is still manufactured and consumed primarily in Sweden and Norway, although it is now available in the United States.
I am certainly of the thought that people should be allowed to pick their poison, but still, it should be very, very clear that that is exactly what they are doing.
In addition, this eliminates any exposure to second-hand smoke, further reducing possible harm to other non-tobacco users. This is seen by public health advocates who believe in "harm reduction" as a reason for recommending snus as well as other nicotine replacement therapies rather than continued use of cancer-causing nicotine delivery systems.
This does not, however, eliminate any harm to health caused by the nicotine itself. Current research focuses on possible long-term side effects on blood pressure, hypertension and possible risk of pancreatic cancer due to tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). TSNAs are the only component of tobacco shown to induce pancreatic cancer in laboratory animals. Nicotine may also exacerbate pancreatic illness, because nicotine stimulates the gastrointestinal tract’s production of cholecystokinin, which stimulates pancreatic growth and may be implicated in pancreatic cancer. Thus far the evidence specifically implicating snus in pancreatic cancer is only suggestive. It should also be noted that the probability of developing pancreatic cancer from cigarettes is higher than the suggested chance of developing pancreatic cancer from snus.
To the otherwise appearing rational person shown in the piece, the idea that he was not actually smoking seemed to be a feature that totally negated any other deleterious effects of the product. The featured user was extolling the virtues of being able to use the product in class, so as not to violate the no-smoking regulations of his school.
Apparently this person is in desperate need of education, because he seemed to be oblivious to the problems incurred by the ingestion of nicotine, which is why he was using the packets. The possible problems with several types of oral cancer, from the various other chemicals, is but one more reason that people should be very wary of these smokeless products.
Perhaps if we were all simply told that there is no beneficial use of tobacco for humans when very young and impressionable, all would be better served.
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