Smokers' perceptions of smokeless tobacco and harm reduction

J Public Health Policy. 2012 May;33(2):188-201. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2012.9. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


Existing survey data indicate that most smokers are not receptive to harm reduction incentives of switching to smokeless tobacco (SLT). Little is known about the underlying reasons for these views. To explore smokers' perceptions of SLT, we conducted a focus group (eight in total) study of daily smokers between 2009 and 2010 at the University of California, Irvine. We transcribed each 2-hour focus group verbatim and analyzed it using domain analysis. The discussions revealed several reasons why smokers are not receptive to SLT. First, smokers associated new spit-less SLT (that is, Snus) with historic images of chewing tobacco. Second, smokers viewed smoking as an incentive to take a break from their daily routine. Third, smokers expressed lack of control over nicotine delivery when using SLT, relative to cigarettes. These findings challenge tobacco manufacturers' strategies to market a smokeless alternative as a growing number of smoke-free policies are introduced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • California
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless*
  • Young Adult


  • Nicotine