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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 May 19; 334(7602): 1028–1029.
PMCID: PMC1871786
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Banning Swedish snus makes no sense

Snus is a kind of smokeless tobacco that users take by mouth—usually by placing it under the upper lip. It's currently banned in Australia and most of Europe, but snus is legal and popular in Sweden, where researchers have recently confirmed that it is safer than cigarettes, but not completely harmlessharmless.

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In a cohort of 279 897 male construction workers, snus was not associated with an excess risk of oral or lung cancer, but users were significantly more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than men who had never used tobacco products (relative risk 2.0, 95% CI 1.2 to 3.3). Smoking was a powerful risk factor for all three cancers.

In another study, researchers calculated that legalising snus in Australia would probably produce a net gain in health benefits to the population if enough smokers switched to snus. So should the bans be lifted?

At least two commentators think they should. It makes no sense to criminalise the use of a relatively safe tobacco product but allow people the freedom to kill themselves smoking cigarettes, they write. However, doctors should still recommend that smokers quit tobacco altogether and offer established, safe, and effective treatments to help them do so.

Articles from The BMJ are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group