A new Rutgers School of Public Health study finds that American smokers mistakenly think that using snus, a type of moist snuff smokeless tobacco product, is as dangerous as smoking tobacco.
The study, led by Dr. Oliva Wackowski, assistant professor of health behavior, society and policy at Rutgers School of Public Health, provides new research on what smokers think about snus, a Swedish style product that is popular in Scandinavia, but newer to the United States.
The researchers reviewed how 256 smokers responded to questions about their perceived risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease and oral cancer from using snus versus cigarettes, and whether there were subgroups of smokers with similar patterns of beliefs.
The researchers found that smokers fell into three subgroups based on their beliefs. About 45 percent perceived snus to be as harmful as smoking overall and for all three risks: lung cancer, heart disease and oral cancer. About 38 percent perceived that snus poses less risk for lung cancer and heart disease than cigarettes but had the same oral cancer risk as cigarettes, and another 17 percent accurately perceived snus to have lower risks for lung cancer but perceived risks for oral cancer and heart disease to be about the same as that from smoking. Almost 40 percent incorrectly perceived the risk of oral cancer to be higher from snus use than smoking.
“These findings continue to suggest that the public does not understand that combustion escalates the health risks in tobacco products that are smoked, making them more harmful than non-combusted smokeless tobacco on a continuum of risk,” said Dr. Wackwoski, who is also a member of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.Tags: Friday Letter Submission