Should Australia lift its ban on low nitrosamine smokeless tobacco products?

Med J Aust. 2008 Jan 7;188(1):44-6. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2008.tb01505.x.


In Australia, 2.9 million people continue to smoke daily, and tobacco still accounts for 8% of disease burden. Tobacco harm-reduction strategies, such as the use of Swedish snus, have been suggested as a way to further reduce this disease burden. In Australia, the most dangerous tobacco products (cigarettes) are the least regulated, while oral tobacco products, including snus, cannot be sold legally. Recent epidemiological modelling indicates that there are only small differences in life expectancy between smokers who quit and those who switch to snus. There is a case on public health and ethical grounds for allowing inveterate smokers who want to reduce their health risks to access snus. At a minimum, the recent increase in tax on smokeless tobacco should be reversed, and the ban on the commercial importation and supply of low nitrosamine smokeless tobacco should be reconsidered in light of the epidemiological evidence on its potential to reduce tobacco-related disease in smokers.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Government Regulation*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Nitrosamines / adverse effects
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Public Health
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / adverse effects
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / chemistry*


  • Nitrosamines