2009 Smokeless SummitBig Tobacco

Comment On a Comment

Symptoms When Quitting NicotineThe following comment was left in response to my recent post: The 2009 Smokeless & Spit Tobacco Summit.  I have decided to move the comment and my associated response to this new post.  I could have been like many blogs out there and simply deleted the comment (as you’ll soon see why) but I chose not to go that route.  Why?  Because even though I think Roderick is probably out for nothing more than a link to his site, I feel it’s important to get the “quitter’s opinion” out there when it comes to these products.

So… here goes.  First I’d suggest you read this post and then come back and read the rest of this.  You’ll be glad you did.

Here is Roderick’s comment fully unedited (AKA full of garbage):

Having read your very well balanced program of speakers, I would like to point out that not all smokeless tobacco is for oral use and Toque Snuff, a nasal snuff, has been proven to be 99% safer than smoking. Most medical associations are now aware of the benefits that harm reduction can provide, however few are aware of the further benefit of English nasal snuff. There has never been a medical case filed against an English nasal snuff company in the 300 years nasal snuff has been in production.

Snuff is safer and more successful for stopping smoking than any other NRT, snuff 76%, patches 17% and gum 12%. With no known harm ever being recorded for nasal snuff, and the number of educated smokers switching to less harmful nasal snuff rising every day, it is reprehensible of these researchers of this article not to mention the safer Toque nasal snuff, the fastest growing NRT in America. This is madness, killing smokers by not informing them that there is another form of safer tobacco, is tant amount to murder. If every smoker in America switched to Toque snuff we would save 400,000 smokers lives a year.

‘The British Medical Journal’
“Our findings suggest that a new age for snuff is coming and it is a feasible alternative to cigarette smoking”

‘Cancer Research UK’
“Snuff seems an entirely acceptable substitute for smoking and could be recommended for addicted smokers because, if they could substitute snuff-taking for smoking, they would greatly reduce the risk to their health”

‘The Lancet’
“Switching from cigarettes to snuff could have enormous health benefits”।

‘Cancer Research UK’
“Studies show that the health hazards surrounding snuff are much less than cigarettes and the risk is approximately one per cent compared with the risks associated with smoking”

‘The British Medical Journal’
“Switching from cigarettes to snuff could have enormous health benefits…. the absence of tar and gases such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and many other toxic combustion products, would virtually eliminate smoking-related cancer, bronchitis, and possibly heart disease. Also, snuff does not contaminate the atmosphere for non-users”

‘The Lancet’
“Snuff could save more lives and avoid more ill-health than any other preventive measure likely to be available to developed nations well into the 21st century”

‘Cancer Research UK’
‘By smoking you are setting fire to the products which causes their combustion. Snuff doesn’t have the combustion products which are carcinogenic and all the user is getting is the nicotine.”

I’m going to try and respond as best I can point by point here cause I think your comments are full of fallacies.  I’ll ask for forgiveness in advance as I’m going to completely destroy your “argument” for snuff – sorry.

Having read your very well balanced program of speakers, I would like to point out that not all smokeless tobacco is for oral use and Toque Snuff, a nasal snuff, has been proven to be 99% safer than smoking. Most medical associations are now aware of the benefits that harm reduction can provide, however few are aware of the further benefit of English nasal snuff. There has never been a medical case filed against an English nasal snuff company in the 300 years nasal snuff has been in production.

I’ll agree that not all smokeless tobacco is for oral use.  I won’t even dispute the fact that your nasal snuff has, “Been proven to be 99% safer than smoking“.  However to me that’s a stupid argument.  That’s like saying a gunshot wound is 99% safer than a grenade blast – both are lethal.  You also point out that, “There has never been a medical case filed against an English nasal snuff company in the 300 years nasal snuff has been in production.” Not sure what to tell you there.  Perhaps English medicine is WAY behind the rest of the world.  Come on over to the United States – there have been plenty.

Snuff is safer and more successful for stopping smoking than any other NRT, snuff 76%, patches 17% and gum 12%. With no known harm ever being recorded for nasal snuff, and the number of educated smokers switching to less harmful nasal snuff rising every day, it is reprehensible of these researchers of this article not to mention the safer Toque nasal snuff, the fastest growing NRT in America. This is madness, killing smokers by not informing them that there is another form of safer tobacco, is tant amount to murder. If every smoker in America switched to Toque snuff we would save 400,000 smokers lives a year.

This is where you lose all credibility with me.  Telling me that snuff is a successful method of quitting smoking is akin to telling me an alcoholic hooked on Jack Daniels should switch to Miller Lite.  What we are addicted to is NICOTINE which your product still contains.  Also, PLEASE don’t refer to your product as a NRT – it’s simply not.  NRT (as I’m guessing you’ve overlooked) stands for Nicotine REPLACEMENT Therapy.  Your product is NOT replacing nicotine… it’s still there.  Period.  You say, “Killing smokers by not informing them that there is another form of safer tobacco, is tant amount to murder.”  My only response would be to ask this – do you tell your users that using YOUR product will kill them?  I’ve reviewed your website and not seen that statement on there… maybe I missed it.

As for your quotes from British medical journals, Cancer Research UK and The Lancet – you’re simply not telling the truth.  I did some digging at The Lancet too… want to see the quote that I found?

Smokeless tobacco products are a major source of carcinogenic nitrosamines; biomarkers of exposure have been developed to quantify exposure as a framework for a carcinogenesis model in people.

How about this one?

In India and Sudan, more than 50% of oral cancers are attributable to smokeless tobacco products used in those countries, as are about 4% of oral cancers in US men and 20% of esophageal and pancreatic cancers in Swedish men.

Here’s an interesting quote that I found on the main Smokeless Tobacco page from a reference YOU provided.

Some people believe that smokeless tobacco is a harmless alternative to smoking cigarettes. But scientists have shown that many forms of smokeless tobacco increase your risk of mouth cancer. They could also increase your risk of pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, and other conditions including gum disease and heart disease.

You’re quite simply not telling the truth.  I understand that you’re trying to sell a product and you have that right.  But rest assured that when you come onto my blog and post a bunch of crap I’m going to blow holes all through it.  I’m sure you’ve fooled quite a few folks into buying your product… but when it comes to quitting you’re out of your league my friend.  KillTheCan.org and our Accountability Forums are here for one reason and one reason only – to stop the lies and allow people to break free from your crap.

Thanks and have a great day.

Love, Chewie

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16 Comments

  1. Sure, I agree, that just because something is statistically safe that someone could die from it. After all, people get killed by lightning, and for a more common example, driving. I drive a car and I think it is safe enough because of statistics. You can only run your life by what is likely and not so much by what could happen (that way lies phobias and conspiracy theories).

    As far as quitting, I think for most people what you say is true. But why should you not have an option to either do something not as harmful and still get what you want (switch to safer smoking like an electronic cigarette) and leave the quitting to people who really want to.

  2. This is just too good of a conversation to not weigh in on. Paul, I hope you don’t feel like I’m piling on, but I never put any stock in the “science” of statistics. You see, a friend of mine was once shot at by an old farmer (yes he was somewhere he shouldn’t have been). So by my statistics, guns aren’t dangerous at all because he was unharmed 100% of the times he was shot at. However, there are a few deer that would disagree. (not on that farmers property I promise you that)

    Let’s face it, not nearly as many people use other means of nicotine injestion as there are folks that smoke. And the devastation of oral cancer is enormous. So it’s entirely possible that both the 90% statistic and the 50 times statistic are both accurate. I will give you that I haven’t had time to read the links that have been posted, so we may have to agree to disagree on this point.

    The one point that I will not agree even if it to disagree on, is that quitting is too hard for anyone. I’ve seen folks conquer their addiction successfully for over 2 years now. When a person has made up their mind, and is willing to do whatever it takes, it happens. The failure I’ve seen mostly stems from the lack of an “easy” solution. My first 3 days of quitting smokeless were a living hell, but I made it through because I wanted to. The next few months weren’t alot better, but I did it because I wanted to. I’ve seen hundreds of others accomplish this same thing because….you get the point.

  3. Oh why not write again?

    1. Chewie, don’t disagree with anything on your last post. Never did. I am aware that nicotine has cardiovascular effects which are tangible and the stress associated with quitting can be considerable. I do not question your choice either to quit or to counsel others to do the same. It sounds like you have the right thing considering.

    2. However, Henry’s response is “great” since it proves much of what I was saying regarding the misleading messages of health authorities. Their most damning , and scientifically discredited, statement is that smokeless gives you 50 times the risk of oral cancer…they site that very study I was talking about. And if you scroll up the page you will find that they say that smoking causes 90% of oral cancers; doesn’t leave much room for any other causes.
    Not that I buy the 90% either. The site is an example of some good information mixed in with a lot of garbage that is designed to scare people rather than inform them. (It stands out in Britain where most of the health sites have a fairly high standard; oddly enough even Britain’s edition of Action on Smoking and Health the writing is much less fanciful).

    Just one small corrective to keep in mind. Brits most common experience of smokeless are South Asian brands which are entirely different and seem to be much more toxic than the American or European brands. They tend to treat them all as one product.

    Just as a matter of interest because I never cease to find it strange to think about: the study that started the 50 times that gets repeated everywhere by Henry and others, was a study where they looked at a group of older American women in the rural south who used a loose powder form. They would wet a stick and then plunge it into a container of the loose snuff then into their mouths and rub it all over their gums and have it in their all their waking hours (reapplying regularly of course). And they had been doing this for decades. Different product altogether, different methods of administration, specific and unusual group of people, etc…And even then the original analysis has been found wanting by anyone taking a good look at it. But they just like to keep using it despite the hundred or so since that have not found the same thing.

  4. Just to confirm what Chewie has said above – Cancer Research UK in no way endorses the use of snuff to help give up smoking. Studies have found that it can increase the risk of oral cancer, pancreatic cancer and quite possibly other cancers too (e.g. see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12728167 & http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15645430).

    The quotes above are not reflective of our current postion and we are not sure where they have originated from. According to other websites (e.g. http://www.snufftobacco.co.uk/quitsmoking), this comment was issued ‘in 1985’ – however, Cancer Research UK was formed in 2002.

    You can read our views on smokeless tobacco here:

    http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/smokingandtobacco/smokelesstobacco

    and the evidence of its harms here:

    http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/smokingandtobacco/howdoweknow/#ST

    Cheers,

    Henry Scowcroft,
    Online Communication Manager,
    Cancer Research UK

  5. I definitely won’t shut down good conversation Paul. I’m not a scholar nor a physician and I have a feeling that you and I could go back and forth quoting research on our respective sides for days. I could show studies that talk about the addictive nature of nicotine (or more specifically smokeless tobacco), the effects on cardiovascular health, blood pressure, etc. and I’m sure it won’t convince you so I won’t try.

    I can tell you this – quitting chewing tobacco nearly killed me. I took myself to the ER twice during my quit because I thought I was having a heart attack. Turned out to be extreme anxiety brought on by nicotine withdrawal. I was jittery, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate, gained weight and nearly took the head off co-workers, friends and family members. Anything that will do that to the human body is not good in my book. That is science that I cannot ignore.

  6. Sorry, old news to me and that does not qualify as evidence. Its tragic but it does not prove anything.

    I smoked and I don’t have cancer; does that convince you that smoking is safe? My personal experience has no validity in that, no matter what I might claim. And I do not parade myself around the country and try to convince people that smoking is safe.

    And as to the nicotine, I’d be interested in what diseases you think it causes. Even the NCI, the ACS and those will tell you that the only people who need to worry about effects from nicotine are pregnant women, and that is for the fetus, not for them. And of course, the caffiene level of cardiovascular risk.

    I know we are coming to the end of this, and you might just shut me down but I need to keep coming back when the science is being ignored.

  7. Chewie,

    Thanks both for posting and for responding to my comment, and yes, though we may choose to agree to disagree personally, the science is what it is. So in response to your points.

    1. No disagreement necessary in regards to quitting. Your site is about quitting and I support that but feel that quitting can be done without bad or outdated science. If someone feels that they do not want to keep using nicotine, all the power to them. In that regard, it does not matter if it is unhealthy or not. We all like to stop doing things just because we don’t see the need to continue. And then, each of us has to find the method that works for us. And I agree that cold turkey seems overall to be one of the best of the approved methods (it certainly outperforms NRTs). I also agree that switching to smokeless is no way to quit using nicotine; its just a way to quit smoking and to reduce the health risks.

    2. As to the thousands of documented cases, please send them to me. I have spent years trying to run these down. The reference I included was in fact a summary of the known evidence in this regard.

    3. As to the NCI; like most official American sources, they base their recommendations and comments on outdated information and tailor it to political guidelines. Almost all the current beliefs (beliefs not science) about smokeless tobacco can be traced to one bad but very influential study, now quite discredited. Quite frankly, Americans should be as suspicious of their health authorities as they are of their government. Not only do these organizations spin their information, they also tend to ignore any studies from outside the borders (and that is where most of the research in the field has happened).

    4. You were able to quit (I am a former smoker and also found it pretty easy to quit) but we are the lucky ones. The reason I do the work I do is because there are people who have tried every method under the sun and to no success. Through the years they have tried all the approved routes and still find themselves smoking and worried about dying, and though to you and me it sounds like a lack of willpower, what it really is is just that they are made a little bit differently than us. They deserve some help. And I am talking about smokers not smokeless users because as you know, I don’t think it is that bad for you so I don’t really care if they continue.

    Nicotine use is a personal choice which for some becomes something they want to quit. Many of those can just walk away but some can’t. If its smoking then you really need to worry about the health; if you can’t stop using nicorette, its not the end of the world.

    5. Final point of clarification. I am not trying to undermine your goals. I fully support you helping people to get off nicotine. My own goal is only to help smokers quit smoking by whatever works. The only reason I bothered writing is that I have spent years trying to undo the common myths (which I used to believe as well until I did the research) that discourage smokers from certain ways of quitting.

    In summary, nicotine is addictive but it is not that bad for you; smokeless might be something you want to quit but because you do not inhale it the carcinogens are irrelevant; anything you smoke (whether its cigarettes, organic tobacco, marijuana, whatever is in the hookah, or any plant matter of any kind) is really bad for you. These are all true statements, I have the resources if you are interested, and none of these things should interfere with your goal of getting people off smokeless tobacco.

    All the best,

    Paul

  8. Paul – thank you for your response. I have a feeling we’re headed toward a “agree to disagree” stalemate but I feel I owe it to myself (and to the KillTheCan.org community) to respond.

    1. NRTs certainly do have a place when it comes to some successful cessation programs. I personally prefer a cold turkey method and believe that is the “best” way to quit. Nothing more than an opinion. We have quite a few members on the KTC forums that have successfully quit using patch, gum, etc. That being said an overwhelming majority of the successful quitters at KTC went the cold turkey route. Furthermore, I don’t believe that someone will truly be free of their addiction to nicotine by merely changing the delivery method (IE, using NRT, switching from smoking to smokeless, etc.)

    2. There are thousands of documented cases of smokeless-caused cancer. Men and women who have gotten cancer based on their smokeless use. Feel free to ask them if they think smokeless is safer than smoking.

    3. I find it hard to believe that smoking broccoli is just as harmful as smoking tobacco but I won’t debate that here. I do take issue with the statement that smokeless tobacco and NRTs are “relatively safe”. Since 1991, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, has officially recommended that the public avoid and discontinue the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco. NCI also recognizes that nitrosamines, found in tobacco products, are not safe at any level. The accumulated scientific evidence does not support changing this position.

    4. I COMPLETELY understand how dangerous smoking is. However, KillTheCan.org is about quitting smokeless tobacco. I see people every single day register at KTC looking for an end to their addiction. They (like smokers) are addicted to nicotine. 40 mg of nicotine can be lethal to a human adult. LETHAL. Nicotine levels of smokeless tobacco are much higher than that of cigarettes. Sure you might not have all the carcinogens but increased levels of nicotine certainly isn’t a good thing. Because of that, you’ll never convince me that smokeless is a “safe” alternative to smoking.

    As for your comment of, “how important it is to keep all the escape routes open for smokers who just can’t quit.” I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who “can’t quit”. I chewed a can and a half of Kodiak per day for over 17 years. That’s equivalent to being a 4-5 pack per day smoker. If I can quit anyone can quit. It comes down to a decision to improve one’s life.

    1. Stumbled upon this via Google. Oral Snuff is disgusting. Secondly, in England there has been not a single cancer case due to nasal snuff. Nasal Snuff is safer than dip or smokes. Both of which are repulsive. Nasal Snuff affects no one. No spitting like a redneck nor do you stink a place to high heaven with second hand smoke.

  9. Wow…where to begin? A few words from someone who actually does research in this area.

    1. What do you think is in nicotine replacement therapy? These are nicotine products just like smokeless tobacco is a nicotine product. They are sources of nicotine.
    2. 99% safer which by the way is very well documented (for the latest review of the evidence to date on smokeless tobacco and disease see http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7015-7-36.pdf) is not like substituting a pistol with a grenade, more like a small set of stairs instead of falling a few stories. You can die from the stairs but it is unlikely and no one would think they are the same. We do use seatbelts and helmets even if they do not guarantee 100% safety.
    3. Smokeless tobacco, and NRTs (see the latest studies) all contain carcinogens. But containing carcinogens is not the same as actually getting cancer (some healthy vegetables contain carcinogens). What matters is whether you burn it and inhale it (smoking broccolli is just as harmful as smoking tobacco); and that is why NRTs and smokeless tobacco are fairly safe…they are not smoked.
    4. You have every right to state an opinion but this is an area in which your opinion could have deadly consequences. Many people have been able to switch from smoking and live healthier lives, just as many don’t even consider switching to smokeless or NRTs because they think they are just as bad. You don’t seem to quite understand how damaging smoking is and how important it is to keep all the escape routes open for smokers who just can’t quit. It is for this reason that the Royal College of Physicians in Britain, and the American Association of Public Health Physicians, and many others are promoting smokeless tobacco and NRTs for smokers.

    Paul

  10. Awesome reply Chewie. What a dork for thinking he can post that crap here to try and sell his product. What’s next, snuff suppositories?

  11. Awesome blog! Please keep us posted if this idiot replies. Sounds like another nic-hawker trying to eek out his niche. Same crap, different orifice.

  12. Well put Chewie. Its the unfortunate rantings of lying self believers like our British friend here that convince the unknowing general public that a gunshot to the head IS better than a grenade to the neck.

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