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Snus does not save lives: quitting smoking does!
  1. L-E Holm1,
  2. J Fisker2,
  3. B-I Larsen3,
  4. P Puska4,
  5. M Halldórsson5
  1. 1
    Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2
    Danish National Board of Health, Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. 3
    Norwegian Directorate for Health, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4
    Finnish National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  5. 5
    Public Health Institute of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
  1. B-I Larsen, Norwegian Directorate for Health, PO Box 8054 Dep, 0031 Oslo, Norway; wan{at}

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Tobacco smoking is steadily declining in Scandinavia, but just under four million people in the Nordic countries are still stuck in the habit of daily smoking, which causes sickness and suffering and takes years from their lives at great cost to the smokers themselves, to their employers and to society at large. Acceptance of exposure to second-hand smoke is increasingly on the wane and the number of smoke-free environments has increased since the successful introduction of mandatory smoke-free workplaces and restaurants in Scandinavia.

The global tobacco industry realises that the end is near for the traditional cigarette, especially in the Western world. In order to keep their old customers and recruit new ones to nicotine addiction, a steadily growing number of cigarette manufacturers supplement their arsenals with various smoke-free products, including Scandinavian-type oral moist snuff (snus). The development of snus products for women and other specific target groups is a clear trend.

There exists in Sweden and Norway a particular Swedish variety of oral moist snuff that is banned in the other European Union (EU) countries. Despite the increasingly more intensive product development and marketing and the mandatory smoke-free environments, daily use of snus has decreased among Swedish men from 22% in 2004 to 19% in 2007. Among women, there is a slight increase, from 3% to 4%. In Norway, snus consumption among men has been greatly on the rise over …

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  • Reproduced with permission from the Finnish Medical Journal and Journal of the Swedish Medical Association.

  • Competing interests: None.