June 15th, 2011
Nicotine without the smoke
The News Journal
There are more ways to get a nicotine fix these days without sucking on a cigarette.
While standbys like chewing tobacco and snuff have long been around, newer alternatives, such as dissolvable pellets and tobacco-coated sticks, offer less messy, more socially acceptable ways for nicotine-addicted users to get what they need.
For tobacco companies pinched by declining smoking rates and increasingly strict indoor air laws, these smoke-free options may be a growing source of revenue. Cigarette consumption has been declining about 3 percent each year, while sales of smokeless tobacco have been growing by about twice that amount annually. Last month, after New York City implemented laws banning smoking in parks, public beaches and other crowded areas, Reynolds American Inc. launched an advertising campaign encouraging smokers to switch to Camel Snus, a pouch-type smokeless tobacco product.
Anti-smoking advocates worry that the growing popularity of smokeless products could reignite interest in tobacco consumption and keep people addicted who might have otherwise quit. In the past, anti-smoking laws like Delaware’s 2002 Clean Indoor Air Act offered the incentive needed for many smokers to finally kick the habit, helping drop the number of adult smokers in the state to 18.3 percent, according to 2009 statistics from the state’s behavioral risk factor survey. Among high school students, 19 percent smoke cigarettes.
As tobacco manufacturers look for ways to keep customers while enticing new ones, smokeless tobacco is being positioned as a bridge that allows consumers to manage their nicotine needs without stepping outside for a smoke break, said Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. That’s particularly worrisome since teen boys are one of the faster-growing segments of the smokeless tobacco market, he added.
Dissolvable products, such as pellets, sticks and strips, that contain nicotine haven’t yet made it to Delaware, where 2 percent of the adult population uses smokeless tobacco, according to the 2009 survey data. But the state Division of Public Health is already trying to put out the message that these “other tobacco” options—which also include cigars and cigarillos—come with their own health risks.