Switching to Smokeless Tobacco No Cure
Quitting Still Healthier Than Switching to Snuff or Chewing Tobacco
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 14, 2007 -- Switching from cigarettes to snuff or chewing tobacco isn’t
nearly as healthy as quitting tobacco altogether.
A new study shows cigarette smokers who changed to spitting smokeless
tobacco products are still more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases
such as lung cancer and heart disease than those who quit using all forms of
"Smokers who switched to snuff or chewing tobacco had considerably worse
health outcomes than those who quit entirely," researcher Michael Thun, MD,
vice president of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research at the American Cancer
Society says, in a news release.
"Any smoker who is trying to quit should use proven methods such as
nicotine replacement, antidepressants, and behavioral counseling rather than
other tobacco products, if they do not succeed in quitting without assistance,”
This is the first study to directly compare death rates among those who quit
tobacco entirely to those who switched to smokeless tobacco.
Switching Poor Substitute for Quitting
In the study, published in Tobacco Control, researchers compared
death rates among a group of more than 116,000 men who participated in an
ongoing cancer prevention study from 1982 to 2002.
More than 4,000 of the men were former cigarette smokers who switched to
smokeless tobacco products; nearly 112,000 were smokers who quit using tobacco
After 20 years of follow-up, smokers who switched to smokeless tobacco
products had a higher risk of death from any cause, and were much more likely
to die from tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and
For example, switchers were 46% more likely to die of lung cancer than were
In addition, researchers found switchers were more than twice as likely to
die from cancers of the mouth and throat as quitters.
Thun says the results support previous studies that show there is no
evidence to support the promotion of alternative tobacco products for smoking