Interest in snus (Swedish-type moist snuff) as a smoking alternative has increased. This wide-ranging review summarizes evidence relating snus to health and to initiation and cessation of smoking. Meta-analyses are included. After smoking adjustment, snus is unassociated with cancer of the oropharynx (meta-analysis RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.68-1.37), oesophagus (1.10, 0.92-1.33), stomach (0.98, 0.82-1.17), pancreas (1.20, 0.66-2.20), lung (0.71, 0.66-0.76) or other sites, or with heart disease (1.01, 0.91-1.12) or stroke (1.05, 0.95-1.15). No clear associations are evident in never smokers, any possible risk from snus being much less than from smoking. "Snuff-dipper's lesion" does not predict oral cancer. Snus users have increased weight, but diabetes and chronic hypertension seem unaffected. Notwithstanding unconfirmed reports of associations with reduced birthweight, and some other conditions, the evidence provides scant support for any major adverse health effect of snus. Although some claims that snus reduces initiation or encourages quitting are unsoundly based, snus seems not to increase initiation, as indicated by few smokers using snus before starting and current snus use being unassociated with smoking in adults (the association in children probably being due to uncontrolled confounding), and there are no reports that snus discourages quitting.
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