Tag Archives: smokeless tobacco

Broken Cigarette and Young Woman

Retailers Selling Tobacco Products to Underage Users Receive Warning Letter

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 20% of high school students smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products.

The FDA also reports that 80% of adults who smoke started before they were 18 years old.

As part of the FDAs strategy of protecting the health of youth, compliance checks amongst tobacco retailers are done to determine whether or not vendors are cooperating in the enforcement of tobacco control laws.

Violating Tobacco Laws

Broken Cigarette and Young WomanIn June 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This legislation gives the FDA the authority to ensure smoking laws are enforced by undergoing compliance investigations of retailers. The purpose of this act is to ensure minors are protected from the health-crippling effects of smoking and tobacco use.

If retailers are found to be selling tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, to underage users, the FDA issues a warning letter as part of the violation of tobacco control laws. If a retailer is found to be breaking the law, they may be required to pay a civil financial penalty.

To learn more, please click > FDA’s Warning Letters

Tobacco Control Compliance Investigations

Approximately 30,000 compliance checks have been completed across the country. The FDA has issued over 1,200 warning letters to establishments found violating restrictions of the sale and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The compliance investigations include verifying whether or not the retailer:

  • confirms the customer’s age by asking for photo identification;
  • properly labels and advertises according to law smokeless tobacco products;
  • has for sale single cigarettes;
  • has in place a ban on cigarette products flavored like fruit or candy; and
  • is using vending machines or self-serving cigarette dispensers that have been banned from use.

For more information on the FDAs retailer inspections, please click > Inspection of Retailers

The Health Consequences of Smokeless Tobacco

Spit is a common tobacco product used amongst young people and athletes. Often flavored, these smokeless tobacco products are viewed as both tasty and appealing.

But the health consequences associated with this product are serious—just as serious as dangers associated with cigarettes.

It is imperative that people recognize these consequences.

What is Smokeless Tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco is often called spit tobacco because it is used in the mouth. Spit consists of tobacco, nicotine, sweeteners for flavor, abrasives, salts, and many other chemicals.

One form of spit tobacco is chew, a leafy form of the substance. Another is snuff, a powdery ground tobacco that can be sniffed or chewed.

One of the appealing elements of smokeless tobacco is the added flavors, including mint, licorice, or cherry flavors. Because of this, young children are attracted to this product, and some start using it as early as nine or ten years old.

Smokeless tobacco should never be perceived as a substitute for cigarettes. There are over 3,000 chemicals and 28 carcinogens found in spit tobacco. It is just as lethal to one’s health as inhaling a cigarette.

Consequences of Using Smokeless Tobacco

It is essential that people do not interpret the lack of smoke or the flavorful taste of spit as fun and harmless. There are several consequences to one’s health from using this product. Because there are over 3,000 chemicals found in smokeless tobacco, there are elevated risks of users developing throat or mouth cancer. Whitish sores may develop inside the mouth called leukoplakia.

Users’ heart rates are often elevated, as is their blood pressure, increasing their chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. The chemicals in the spit decrease the body’s circulation and oxygen levels, leading to increased lethargy and dizzy spells.

Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, and nicotine is extremely addictive. An addicted body is one that only seeks to satisfy its addiction.

Furthermore, users have a higher risk of developing tooth and gum disease due to the nature of this product’s use.

Reference: Health Concerns: Smokeless Tobacco [http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/body-corps/smokeless-sansfumee-eng.php]

Tobacco Harm Reduction Catches On

Yesterday I mentioned the controversy over legislation that would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, authority the FDA itself (or at least its current head) does not want.

One reason for the agency’s leeriness is the possibility that FDA regulation could actually increase the harm associated with tobacco use.

One way that could happen, as I’ve noted before, is through censorship of truthful comparative risk claims – in particular, efforts to promote smokeless tobacco as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes.

Last week there were a couple of positive developments in this area. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians endorsed the concept of tobacco harm reduction, saying snus (Swedish-style oral snuff) and other nicotine-delivering products should be available to smokers who want to cut their risks but are not prepared to give up their drug habit.

In a commentary published by The Lancet (which has long supported “less harmful nicotine delivery systems”), two doctors who worked on the RCP report, John Britton and Richard Edwards, note that the health risks associated with snus are roughly 90 percent lower than the health risks associated with cigarettes.

They question the E.U.’s ban on smokeless tobacco (which does not apply in Sweden) and the policy of treating nicotine replacement products as quitting aids instead of long-term replacements for cigarettes:

snus.jpgWe believe that the absence of effective harm reduction options for smokers is perverse, unjust, and acts against the rights and best interests of smokers and the public health.

Addicted smokers have a right to choose from a range of safer nicotine products, as well as accurate and unbiased information to guide that choice.

Britton told The Independent:

Smokers smoke because they are addicted to nicotine, but it isn’t nicotine in cigarette smoke that kills….We need to liberalise the medicinal market and introduce a decent cigarette substitute. We may end up with millions of people addicted to nicotine inhalers, but so what? Millions are addicted to caffeine.

Although there is more to the cigarette habit than nicotine (one reason the success rates for “nicotine replacement therapies” are so low), smokers certainly should be free to switch to other, less dangerous sources of nicotine if that’s what they want.

The distinction that Britton draws between addiction and the harm associated with it is a vitally important one that discussions of drug policy tend to overlook. There is no rational reason we need to pretend that nicotine gum, patches, and inhalers are medicines that treat the disease of nicotine addiction, as opposed to safer ways of getting the same drug.

Another encouraging sign regarding snus: Last week The New York Times ran a story about snus products in the U.S. that clearly reported the truth: Although not 100 percent risk-free, snus is indisputably less dangerous than cigarettes.

The Times quoted Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society, who questioned the evidence that “smokers are able to switch to smokeless tobacco and remain switched.” But even Glynn conceded that “if every smoker in the United States were to switch to smokeless tobacco, ‘in the next decade we would see fewer cancers and less heart disease.'”

That acknowledgment is significant, since American anti-smoking groups (like American public health agencies) generally have been hostile toward harm reduction via smokeless tobacco, muddying or denying the product’s clear health advantages. By contrast, Britain’s Action on Smoking and Health has supported tobacco harm reduction for years.

Why was last week’s story more scientifically accurate that the usual Times take on smokeless tobacco? Probably because it ran in the business section instead of the health section.

Source: Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine

[Thanks to Brad Rodu and Bill Piper for the tip about the RCP report.]