An alternative approach to smoking control

Am J Med Sci. 1994 Jul;308(1):32-4. doi: 10.1097/00000441-199407000-00007.


The detrimental health effects of cigarette smoking, including the increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and pulmonary diseases, are well established. Although most smokers express a desire to quit, 46 million Americans continue to smoke because of the nicotine addiction associated with the habit. The author, in this paper, describes the magnitude of the health risks related to various forms of tobacco use and proposes that smokeless tobacco be recommended as a cigarette substitute by persons who cannot stop smoking. This proposal is made because smokeless tobacco is associated with far fewer and considerably less serious health consequences than is smoking. Of primary concern is oral cancer, the annual incidence of which is estimated at 26 cases per 100,000 smokeless tobacco users. If all American smokers used smokeless tobacco instead, this would result in 12,000 cases of oral cancer per year. This is only 1/20 of all smoking-related cancers, less than 1/10 of smoking-related lung cancers, and less than half the number of oral cancers now attributed to smoking. A public health policy that recognizes smokeless tobacco as an alternative to smoking would benefit individuals confronted with the unsatisfactory options of abstinence or continuing to smoke.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless*