Epidemiologic perspectives on smokeless tobacco marketing and population harm

Am J Prev Med. 2007 Dec;33(6 Suppl):S387-97. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2007.09.009.


Moist snuff is the most popular form of orally-used smokeless tobacco in North America and parts of Europe. Because moist snuff use conveys lower risks for morbidity or mortality than does cigarette smoking, its use has been proposed as a tobacco harm-reduction strategy. This article critically reviews new and published epidemiologic evidence on health effects of moist snuff and its patterns of use relative to smoking in the United States, Sweden, and Norway. The available evidence suggests that: (1) moist snuff is a human carcinogen and toxin, (2) increased promotion of moist snuff has led to increased sales in those countries, (3) the uptake of moist snuff in these three countries during the past several decades has occurred primarily among adolescent and young adult men, (4) increased prevalence of snuff use has not been associated consistently with a reduction in smoking initiation or prevalence, (5) moist snuff use apparently plays a very minor role in smoking cessation in the U.S. and an inconsistent role in Sweden, (6) U.S. states with the lowest smoking prevalence also tend to have the lowest prevalence of snuff use, (7) there are no data on the efficacy of snuff as a smoking-cessation method, (8) the prevalence of cigarette smoking is relatively high among people who use snuff, and (9) snuff use is more consistently associated with partial substitution for smoking than with complete substitution. The evidence base for promotion of snuff use as a public health strategy is weak and inconsistent.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Harm Reduction
  • Humans
  • Marketing / methods
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / adverse effects*
  • United States / epidemiology