Study exposes dangers of snuff for smokers wanting to quit

GAINESVILLE, Fla.As tobacco companies campaign to promote smokeless tobacco as a safer alternative to cigarettes, many smokers who take up snuff in an effort to quit instead end up using both products, warns a University of Florida researcher. Furthermore, nonsmokers who use snuff are more likely than those who don't to eventually begin smoking.

"Men were more than 2.5 times as likely to have switched from snuff to cigarettes than to have switched from cigarettes to snuff," said Dr. Scott Tomar, a professor of public health services and research at UF's College of Dentistry who tracked snuff and cigarette use among more than 14,000 U.S. men. Tomar's study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Tomar assessed data gathered from the 1998 National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and updated approximately every four years.

"Snuff may be a gateway form of nicotine dosing among U.S. males that may lead to subsequent cigarette use," added Tomar, also a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. "More than 40 percent of men who had been snuff users continued or started smoking."

Snuff is finely milled tobacco that rapidly delivers high doses of nicotine to the bloodstream. Users commonly place a pinch of snuff between their front teeth and lower lip.

The survey found 26 percent of the study participants smoked, whereas 4 percent used snuff. One percent used both forms--equivalent to approximately 1 million American men when the findings are extrapolated to the general population. Men who reported using snuff "on some days" were more likely to smoke--and less likely to quit--than those who used snuff daily, Tomar said. On average, they also smoked as many cigarettes per day as those who did not use snuff--about 18.

Tomar's findings are comparable to the results of a national longitudinal study he conducted of adolescent and young adult males in the

Contact: Mike Garrison
University of Florida

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