Vapers Should Embrace Smokeless Tobacco and Heat-Not-Burn

A guest column from Reason Foundation Senior Fellow Brian Fojtik

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Vapers-snus-heat-not-burn

Tobacco control groups, government bureaucrats and too many politicians seem intent on destroying what British addiction expert David Nutt called the “greatest health advance since vaccinations” and instead keep smokers smoking and dying.

Perhaps the only reason they haven’t yet succeeded is because vapers, who often lived for years as shamed smokers, have finally done what their families, friends and government have insisted they do for years – quit smoking. Unlike current smokers who have been politically marginalized after being attacked and shamed for decades, and thus hesitant to fight for “smokers’ rights,” vapers are standing up and fighting for their right to buy, sell and use products that they believe responsible for saving their lives.

Groups like the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the American Cancer Society seem completely oblivious to credible science that demonstrates vaping is a far safer alternative than smoking. These groups fail to understand or embrace the reality that removing smoke from the delivery of nicotine, removes along with it almost all the likelihood of smoking-related lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and COPD that destroys the quantity and quality of smokers’ lives.

These groups aren’t fighting to improve health. They aren’t interested in saving smokers’ lives.

These groups aren’t fighting to improve health. They aren’t interested in saving smokers’ lives. No, they are engaged in an ideological and moralistic fight like apocalyptic TV preachers who themselves claim to be able to determine which of us is fit for heaven and which for hell. They’ve learned and perfected unethical tactics they aggressively employ against smokers and the companies that provide them with any nicotine products. Over the last decade or more, they’ve conveniently and deceitfully conflated terms like smoking, tobacco and nicotine to deliberately deceive the public, the media and the government to deceptively alter their method of attack on smoking to fit smokeless tobacco products, new heat-not-burn products, and vapor products.

Too often, politically unsophisticated vapers get intellectually spun to a point where vapers themselves begin to behave like tobacco control zealots. Too often, some vapers spout off against smokeless tobacco, heat-not-burn products or vapor products manufactured by tobacco companies as inherently evil. It’s not scientifically valid or intellectually consistent. It’s a big mistake and vapers should be careful not to fall into that trap.

Vapers and vape advocates understand better than most that it’s not tobacco or nicotine that kills people, but breathing in the products of combustion from the end of a lit cigarette for decades that shortens many smokers’ lives. Vapers are often asked “What is the best vapor product to use?” Thankfully, many vapers have become sophisticated enough to reply that the “best product is the one that works best for you.” Vapers should expand that to include other non-combustible products that may help a smoker – and be careful not to discriminate against those who find different options that may work best for them.

Snus
Snus

Perhaps the greatest long-term scientific basis to support vaping doesn’t come from the study of e-cigarettes at all, but from those who have studied and reported on the health benefits realized in Sweden as many smokers transitioned away from combustible cigarettes, and instead began using the traditional Swedish smokeless tobacco called “snus” to consume nicotine. Continuing to consume nicotine over the long-term and continuing to use tobacco in non-combustible forms over decades has allowed the Swedes to dramatically reduce smoking rates and over time concurrently reduce the smoking-related diseases that kill some smokers prematurely or diminish quality of life.

Not only should we learn from and use the Swedish example to advocate for e-cigarettes and vapor products, but we should learn from the tactics employed in Europe against snus and in the United States against traditional smokeless tobacco products like Copenhagen, Skoal and Grizzly. Dr. Brad Rodu from the University of Louisville, Canadian lawyer and health policy expert David Sweanor, and former Director of Action on Smoking and Health-UK Clive Bates have been leading the fight to allow smokers access to information and access to safer vapor products for years. But Rodu, Sweanor and Bates didn’t begin to build their case when e-cigarettes arrived on the market. Years before vapor products existed, they were engaged in a battle against government (and other) efforts to impede access to scientifically valid information and access to smokeless products that decades of epidemiological studies demonstrate to be 98 or 99 percent safer than smoking.

So, what’s the best product to help an adult smoker leave combustible cigarettes behind?

And more recently, across the globe, we’ve seen the introduction of heat-not-burn products like IQOS (from Philip Morris International) and glo (from British American Tobacco) that reduce dangerous exposures to toxicants versus combustible cigarettes by heating, but not burning tobacco. Just as smokers in the U.K. and the U.S. are leaving cigarettes behind and switching to vapor products, smokers in Japan are leaving cigarettes behind by switching to heat-not-burn products like IQOS. It’s not an entirely new development. Years ago, we saw RJ Reynolds (now Reynolds American) develop and market products like Premier and Eclipse that were an effort to do the same. The concept behind e-cigarettes and vapor products – allowing adults to consume nicotine in a satisfying fashion without combustion and toxicant levels of tobacco smoke – existed long before any vapers were chasing clouds and before many were born.

Different individuals have different preferences. Some have even quit with nicotine replacement products like the gum and the patch that fail 93 percent of the time. So, what’s the best product to help an adult smoker leave combustible cigarettes behind? If vapers want to be intellectually consistent and they truly are fighting to ensure that smokers are allowed access to nicotine products that can lengthen and improve quality of lives, they should answer “whatever vapor product, smokeless tobacco product, heat-not-burn or other non-combustible products that work best for you.”

Brian Fojtik

Brian Fojtik has been educating legislators and public policy leaders across the country about the dangers of smoking and the concept of tobacco harm reduction for more than 20 years. Today, he speaks, writes, and consults on tobacco harm reduction and other consumer freedom policy issues on behalf of the Reason Foundation, where he is a Senior Fellow.

  • annonymous fukface

    iqos ROCKS

  • Nancy Sutthoff

    It is not that vapers don’t support it per se, it is that they want to be sure that the HnB technology remains a separate entity from E liquid vapourisation. Some would argue that they are the same, and they are not and the concerns that some BT companies want to ride the coattails of vaping by being classed as the same are valid. Different tools for same toolbox is how I see it.

    • Jim McDonald

      The other issue — and it’s a huge issue for vapers — is that the cigarette industry has gotten rich by using its wealth to influence legislation and regulation. We have multiple examples of American cigarette companies pushing laws and regs that favor their products over independent vaping products.

      Tobacco control zealots always scream about the tobacco industry’s lies about their products (and most of those lies are from 20-50 years old), but to me their ruthless gaming of the political system is a more dangerous thing. And they do indeed use what little progress vaping advocates have made in the political sphere to promote their own (non-vaping) products’ safety and low risk.

  • Michael Abrams

    Practical alternative for apartments, hotel rooms, rental cars, parties. E liquid has limitations for some ppl. Half pack a day smoker doesn’t want to have to vape all day, or lifestyle/work won’t allow it. Lack of staying power, and not everyone finds pg/vg pleasant. Not to mention unwanted attention from clouds, and setting off smoke detectors. Also, if and when US approved, couldn’t non BT make little mods that could heat any analog?

    • Gary Balkam

      My clouds have never set off my smoke detector. And I do cloud builds. Mind you, I don’t blow vapor right at the detector, but what is in the air has never set the detector off.

  • Gary Balkam

    Chewing tobacco doesn’t burn. Yet it still causes cancer of the mouth. I am totally anti tobacco in all forms. It is part of the thought process I used to quit smoking. A total break from tobacco usage. Not even tobacco flavor in my ejuice. But that is just me. It doesn’t taste like a cigarette, so why bother? As for harm reduction tobacco products, first of all, i don’t believe the claims made by tobacco companies. Second, I have never personally used those products so I really can’t advocate their use. Vapors are fighting their own battles with fake science reports, FDA, and public misinformation. One sided click bait news casting doesn’t help either. Perhaps vaping regulations will pave the way for other harm reduction products, which is fine if they are legit. But as it stands, I won’t be picking up any “stray dogs”.

    • Jim McDonald

      Much of the science vapers count on to make our case is from research on snus. There is no elevated cancer risk from the use of snus or modern North American smokeless tobacco. It is exceedingly sad to see vapers believe the propaganda about smokeless, just as most people believe the same kind of lies — told by the same people! — about vaping.

  • Hi Gary! I am Atakan Erik Befrits from NNA Sweden and somewhat known as a harm reduction advocate with focus on poorer income brackets and the odd 700 million or so tobacco users in the LMIC (Low and Middle Income Countries) who will never afford to vape or afford cessation meds. Many wouldn’t even be able to get them even if they were free of charge.

    Sir, I have to quietly but firmly protest! Smokeless products of reasonable quality do not cause any elevations in any form of cancer whatsoever. To the best of our understanding not any other adverse health effects either, that would not also be found from use of NRT products. You seem to have a very good grasp of the terrible misinformation surrounding vaping, but somehow presume that the info on SLTs is legit. I don’t understand that really.

    Even major league baseballers total in the US, if corrected for excess alcohol and possibly forms of HPV, aren’t more prone to oropharyngeal cancers than non users, and even if slightly so, then at vastly lower levels than boozing and screwing smokers. Sweden and snus has well over 100 years of absolutely meticulous records keeping and hadn’t it been for the political and ideological lying here, it would have been globally evident since over 25 years, that food grade smokeless has the same negative effects (except for the nicotine) as do other foodstuffs. Food grade smokeless is technically salt-pickled salad with flavors and PH regulators.

    The basis for continuing and increasing open-mindedness and science being done on vaping and other forms of harm reduction – are at the end of the day based in Swedish epidemiological observations from snus use having over 50% market share and our smoke related disease being approximately half of those in comparable countries without snus. (per 100,000 random tobacco users).

    Any thoughts or questions, please get in touch with us. I would be more than happy to supply you with the best current evidence. I think it is crucial that harm reduction, whether vaping or SLT and even other products and problems, should try and be a coherent category/class of products based on a Human Rights based framework. Kind regards Atakan ([email protected])

    • Jim McDonald

      Thanks for a more detailed reply than I could have come up with, Atakan!

      • Thanks to you Jim for always putting out excellent stuff and seeing the big picture! All the best and hope to see you in Europe during 2018. Twice there will hopefully be useful stuff going on here, I might add……! USA has signed, but not ratified the FCTC. The signature itself, irrespective of the ratification, brought a whole bunch of responsibilities with it according to international law. Lots of fun stuff regarding that, that are excellent ammo to promote a reasonable attitude toward THR. Signing the FCTC means that the signing country may never act deliberately, in a way that goes against the spirit and intention of the treaty. Best and kindest, Atakan

    • Gary Balkam

      I’m not against them if they are safe. What I am saying, is vapers support vaping e-cig juice. (not the other stuff). We stick to what we know. For example I have never used Snus,so I can’t speak for or against it’s use. The plus side is vaping may break harm reduction away from Pharma and products like Nicorette and force Gov to consider smokeless harm reduction products. Now when you say tobacco for example, I think of those cancer causing agents in tobacco that dissolve in water, whether it is burned or not

      “Overall, people who dip or chew
      get about the same amount of nicotine as regular smokers. They also get
      at least 30 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. The most harmful cancer-causing substances in smokeless tobacco are tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). … Mouth, tongue, cheek, and gum cancer.Nov 13, 2015”
      Source:

      Health Risks of Smokeless Tobacco – American Cancer Society
      Mind you, it isn’t the nicotine I am concerned with.

      • Jim McDonald

        Yeah, lots of things contain chemicals “known to cause cancer.” For example, coffee contains 21 known carcinogens. The question is: do they cause cancer? More than 30 years of epidemiological evidence says that modern North American and Swedish smokeless causes no measurable harm. The demonization of smokeless tobacco by ACS and all the other “health groups” is exactly the playbook they’re now using for vaping. Vapers, off all people, should want to see the real evidence and not believe what anti-tobacco “authorities” tell us.

      • Jim McDonald

        Yeah, lots of things contain chemicals “known to cause cancer.” For example, coffee contains 21 known carcinogens. The question is: do they cause cancer? More than 30 years of epidemiological evidence says that modern North American and Swedish smokeless causes no measurable harm. The demonization of smokeless tobacco by ACS and all the other “health groups” follows exactly the playbook they’re now using for vaping. Vapers, off all people, should want to see the real evidence and not believe what anti-tobacco “authorities” tell us.

        Here are some comments from Dr. Brad Rodu and David Sweanor, responding to a study about perception of risk in smokeless tobacco:

        Decades of epidemiologic studies have documented that the health risks of smokeless tobacco use are, at most, 2% those of smoking (Rodu B, 2006; Rodu B, 2011; Fisher M 2017; Royal College of Physicians, 2002; Lee PN, 2009). Unlike cigarettes, smokeless tobacco does not cause lung cancer, heart and circulatory diseases or emphysema. In 2002 the Royal College of Physicians concluded: “As a way of using nicotine, the consumption of non-combustible [smokeless] tobacco is on the order of 10–1,000 times less hazardous than smoking, depending on the product.” (Royal College of Physicians, 2002)
        The low risks from smokeless tobacco use even include mouth cancer. A 2002 review documented that men in the U.S. who use moist snuff and chewing tobacco have minimal to no risk for mouth cancer (Rodu B, 2002), and a recent federal study found no excess deaths from the disease among American men who use moist snuff or chewing tobacco (Wyss AB, 2016).
        As one of us recently wrote, “Deception or evasion about major differences in product risks is not supported by public health ethics, health communication or consumer practices. Public health agencies have an obligation to correct the current dramatic level of consumer misinformation on relative risks that they have fostered.” (Kozlowski LT, 2018)
        Brad Rodu Professor of Medicine University of Louisville
        David Sweanor Adjunct Professor of Law Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics University of Ottawa
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28938110/#cm28938110_74215

        Here is Rodu’s blog, where he writes about smokeless and vaping:
        https://rodutobaccotruth.blogspot.com/

        Here are some other studies to check out:
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19638245/
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17184539/
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21801389/
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27209528/

  • Marl Andrew Symons

    You’ve lost another subscriber here

    • Jim McDonald

      That’s unfortunate. Brian isn’t speaking for Vaping360, but offering a valid opinion about tobacco harm reduction and reduced-risk products. Maybe you’d be interested in writing an essay with an opposing point of view?