Smokeless tobacco may not help smokers quit

February 16th, 2009 - 7:13 am ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, Feb 16 (Xinhua) Smokeless tobacco does not increase smokers’ quit rates, according to a new study by US researchers.

Previous researches showed that many smokers in Sweden try to quit smoking by using snus, a form of moist, smokeless tobacco that’s placed under the lip. In Sweden, snus is more popular among male smokers, and Swedish men have higher smoking cessation rates than women.

The findings prompted some people to suggest that public health officials in the United States and other countries should promote smokeless tobacco as a way to help smokers quit cigarettes.

But researchers at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD) examined data collected from more than 15,000 people in the United States and found that smokeless tobacco does not increase American smokers’ quit rates.

Cultural factors appear to influence whether smokeless tobacco can help smokers quit cigarettes, the US researchers said in the new study appearing online in the February issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

“With an ongoing tobacco control effort, men in the US seem to be quitting smoking at higher rates than men in Sweden,” said study author Shu-Hong Zhu, a professor of family and preventive medicine in the UCSD School of Medicine. “And US women are quitting at the same rate, unlike their counterparts in Sweden.”

“Many public health officials and scientists have cautioned that the Swedish results may be unique to Sweden,” Zhu said. “This research confirms that.”

Zhu and his colleagues found that among American men, less than 1 percent of current smokers switched to smokeless tobacco during the 12-month study.

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