Saturday, February 27, 2010

From Cigarettes to Snus: Tobacco Advertising Returns!

I had read about the tobacco industries attempts to shift its marketing from cigarettes to a "spitless" tobacco (or what it is calling Snus), but it didn't really sink in until I was reading Entertainment Weekly.

Sitting on the T on my way up to Cambridge I saw this ad. My first thought while reading it was "That's interesting...Camel is promoting quitting smoking?" It's fascinating how quickly I recognized it as a smoking ad...

Then, I was horrified when I saw it was marketing Camel Snus. Agh! I didn't know whether to be more upset with Camel (wanting to make a profit off another product that's bad for health) or with Entertainment Weekly (wanting to make a buck to fund the magazine I've been getting for free) for running the ad!

Snus is a rising star of tobacco products in the US, which doesn't require spitting or chewing and is placed under a person's upper lip. It comes in flavors such as "frost" and "mellow." It's loosely regulated in the US, despite the fact that many of these products appeal to young people (we're talking kids and adolescents) and Snus has been banned in the European Union since 1992 because of its cancer-causing properties.

Even Sweden's National Department of Public Health (Snus originated in Sweden) has acknowledged that Snus does appear to cause cancer and increase risk of death from heart disease! Although, scientists disagree and claim these studies were flawed. In my reading of it, the reasons critics give are more flawed than the studies themselves.

The warning message in the ad is small and barely compelling. "This product may cause mouth cancer." May? Well, that's an interesting read of the evidence. It should read:
"This product probably does cause mouth cancer."
"This product likely causes cancer."

Quitting smoking to take up Snus is bad for your health. Chew (sugarfree) gum instead.

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