Snus is key to lowering tobacco-related death rates, says health expert

The use of alternative products to cigarettes have been a key driver in bringing down Sweden’s smoking rates. Sweden is on the cusp of becoming the first EU country to record a 5% smoking incidence, the official ‘smoke free’ threshold set out by the World Health Organization, due to the availability of less harmful alternatives, such as snus.

Research on the topic of tobacco harm reduction has underscored the positive health benefits of snus in Sweden. In a new commentary piece, entitled ‘Snus Has Saved Many Lives in Sweden – And Can Save Many More, Dr. Lars Ramström compares mortality data from Sweden with several countries where snus is heavily restricted, finding that snus has saved around 4,000 lives per year among men in Sweden. Ramström also points out the need for concerted efforts from health authorities to make clear the difference in risk between cigarettes and snus, noting that exaggerated claims about the health risks of snus impede large-scale transition from cigarettes.

Ramström’s work correlates with research previously conducted by Smoke Free Sweden, which found that Sweden had a 41% lower incidence of cancer, as well as a 38% lower level of total cancer deaths, compared to the rest of its European counterparts. Smoke Free Sweden’s ‘Saving Lives Like Sweden’ report also found that 2.9 million lives in the EU could be saved if authorities followed Sweden’s approach to tobacco harm reduction.

By making less harmful products, such as snus, more accessible to smokers, Swedish policymakers have found a fire escape. Now it is up to health authorities around the world to consider this compelling evidence and save the lives of millions of smokers.