Smokeless Tobacco Not Useful Smoking Cessation Tool in U.S., Study Finds

Americans and Swedes have very different habits when it comes to smoking and quitting smoking — especially when it comes to the effectiveness of smokeless tobacco for smoking cessation — according to new research from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Karolinska Institutet (Sweden).

Researchers studied data of 15,000 adults from the Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey, and found that while many Swedes had found using smokeless tobacco, like Snus, a useful way to stop smoking, Americans — the majority of whom did not use smokeless tobacco — had higher quit rates.

“With an ongoing tobacco control effort, men in the U.S. seem to be quitting smoking at higher rates than men in Sweden. And U.S. women are quitting at the same rate, unlike their counterparts in Sweden,” said lead author Shu-Hong Zhu, who teaches at UCSD School of Medicine. The researchers found that though American men were more likely to use smokeless tobacco than American women, the men did not have an advantage over the women in quitting smoking.

The researchers also found that less than one percent of male American current smokers in the study switched to smokeless tobacco over one year.

The study’s findings contribute to the debate on whether health professionals should recommend switching to smokeless tobacco as a way of reducing overall harm from tobacco. “Many public health officials and scientists have cautioned that the Swedish results may be unique to Sweden,” Zhu said. “This research confirms that idea.”

The results were published online Jan. 23, 2009 in the journal Tobacco Control.

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