Thursday, April 21, 2011

smoking vs. other methods of ingesting tobacco (May 10, 2007)

Let's get a little terminology straight. First, we have cigarette smoking. It's the act of placing a lit tobacco cigarette in one's mouth and inhaling, then exhaling. Second, we have nicotine addiction, the situation of one's body being or becoming addicted to nicotine, commonly found in tobacco products. Third, we have dosing, the act or process of ingesting a dose of nicotine into one's body to satisfy the craving for nicotine once one is addicted to it.

They are three separate things, and although they are considered one and the same by nearly everyone, they are distinctly different actions, independent concepts. It is not absolutely essential that one get a nicotine dose via smoking a cigarette. Absent the addiction, there would be far less smoking activity. Absent the nicotine in cigarettes, there would be a lot more people who would successfully quit. Given the nicotine dose in a form such as a patch, it is far easier not to smoke.

So what's the point? That smokers recognize this distinction, and try to get their nicotine dose via a means other than a cigarette.

The act of smoking has several downsides, most notably the spewing into the air of hundreds of poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals, which must then be inhaled by everyone around them. It smells bad, both up close and far away, and the activity is increasingly deemed socially unacceptable. Because of this, many governments as well as property owners independent of governments are banning smoking.

The fast solution is for smok^H^H^H^H people addicted to nicotine to obtain their dose, their "hit", via some other means which does not inflict their dosing activity upon everyone around them. How this is done is of little concern to me. Several alternatives already exist (chew, snuff, smokeless), but a new type not yet available in the USA on a large scale, called snus (rhymes with "news"), may offer as unobtrusive and low cost an alternative as exists today. The product is best known in Sweden, where it has been in widespread use for years.

The best attribute about snus is that using it greatly reduced the chance that one will get cancer from tobacco use. Long-term studies have indicated a nearly 90% reduction in deaths from lung cancer among those whose primary dosing mechanism changed to snus from cigarettes. No cancer is good, nor is any amount truly acceptable, but these are real numbers, real big numbers here in the USA.

More on this later.

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