The Sun vs Ashley Cole 

Tomorrow the ECJ gives its verdict on oral tobacco – just days after The Sun caught Ashley Cole using it. Snus is much loved by those The Sun regards as the fittest in the world: England footballers and Scandinavian women. The court will decide whether to end the EU ban on snus which The Sun says is “even more deadly” than the cigarettes Ashley’s girlfriend smokes. So, is the left-back right? Or would the judges be better off listening to the fitness gurus at the Currant Bun?

Giving evidence in The Sun is Professor Stanton Glantz. He’s a space engineer by training. Next time you’re strapped above an Apollo rocket you might be interested in what he has to say. But on snus? If it really is “even more deadly” than smoking then why does Action on Smoking and Health say it’s “over 100 times less harmful”? Why does the EU find its health advantages over smoking “undeniable”? Or the Lancet say researchers cannot find any illness associated with snus? Not even oral cancer. Maybe the Lancet needs more space engineers?

Better still, The Sun could highlight the plight of snus users by doing something guaranteed to appeal to its readers – a photoshoot of lots of young Norwegian women. Why? Well 14% of Astrids and Inges use ‘fatal’ snus. Eighteen years ago, 30% of them were using ‘safer’ cigarettes – but that has collapsed to an astonishing 1%. We can only imagine how much that worries The Sun – and tobacco company executives. Norway’s women picked up the habit from neighbouring Sweden where only 5% of the population now smoke. That’s by far the lowest in Europe. Smoking is ending in Scandinavia.

Yet what if The Sun is right about the dangers of snus? Perhaps its photographer could persuade “Norway’s Sauciest Snus Users” to protect their health by switching back to smoking? That might be difficult. These “Hot But Not Smoking Beauties” would point to long-term mortality data which shows that banning snus kills. If the rest of the EU had Sweden’s tobacco usage, 355,000 fewer men would die each year. Scandinavia’s women prefer their men without emphysema.

Here in the UK, MPs aren’t listening to The Sun’s space expert: the Science & Technology Select Committee has urged the government to consider legalising snus when Brexit permits. So even if the ECJ doesn’t allow snus in the EU, it may not matter. In the meantime perhaps The Sun will send that photographer to Oslo. And talk to Ashley…

This article was sponsored by www.abzed.com which works for supporters and producers of alternatives to smoking. More information: ian@abzed.com
Sources
[1] Ashley Cole using snus, The Sun, 17 November 2018: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/7764156/ashley-cole-rubs-tobacco-snus-girlfriend-sharon-in-la/
[2] 2004: Action on Smoking and Health: “The contradictory, illogical law on tobacco… leaves cigarettes legal while snus, which is over 100 times less harmful, is banned.”http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/eu-ruling-on-smokeless-tobacco-shows-need-for-independent-tobacco-regulation/
[3] 2008: European Union: “It is undeniable that for an individual substitution of tobacco smoking by the use of moist snuff would decrease the incidence of tobacco related diseases,” p. 14: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_013.pdf
[4] The Lancet: No evidence of harm being done by long-term use of snus “for any health outcome” (2017), p. 1364:  http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)32366-8.pdf
[5] Oral cancer: for snus “no overall association is seen for oropharyngeal cancer”, Lee (2011), see section 3.1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21163315
[6] Norway Snus Use: Use among young women in Norway grew from 5% to 14% in six years. For Norwegian snus data select data using tick icons and then download to Excel. https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/07692/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6
[7] Norway 1% smoking rate: among young women smoking fell from 30% to 1% in seventeen years (2000 to 2017): Norwegian Smoking Data (select data using tick icons and then download to Excel) https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/05307/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6
[8] Sweden Snus Use: Snus is legal in Sweden and 20% of people are daily users of oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. See footnote on page 73 of EU Eurobarometer 2017:http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146
[9] EU Eurobarometer 2017: Sweden Smoking Fall: Daily smoking fell in Sweden from 8% to 5% over the last three years, p.27: http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146
[10] Epidemiology: Two academic studies have shown that if snus were available in the rest of Europe it could save between 200,000 and 355,000 lives every year. Brad Rodu, (2004): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15074568 and Snus Commission report (2017): http://snuskommissionen.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Snuskommissionen_rapport3_eng_PRINT.pdf
[11] 2018: UK Commons Science and Technology Committee: recommends unbanning snus: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/e-cigarettes-17-19/



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