You Snus You Win

Politicians make weird decisions that seem to have little to do with common sense or the good of the citizenry who suffer under their rule. Here’s an example of such a decision taken by the lawmakers of the European Union, Russia, and other misguided jurisdictions.
Zwei_zigaretten
Smoking is one of the most serious public health hazards known: cigarettes will kill their users unless they die of something else first. Smokers smoke as a means of acquiring nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug. But it is not the nicotine in smoke that causes the most harm; it is all the other stuff in the smoke that kills people, like tar, and the other 2,500-odd chemical compounds that the hapless smoker inhales along with the nicotine.

The simple—but wrong—solution to this would be to criminalise smoking and impose the same sort of penalties as are imposed for the use of, say, heroin. Hitler tried to ban smoking, but Hitler is not chiefly remembered for his dedication to the defence of individual rights. A ban on smoking would be wrong because it infringes the right of every adult human being to make his own decisions regarding his own health and lifestyle. It is a principle of a free society that the state may not intervene except to protect others from harm, not the individual who must suffer the consequences of his own actions.

Wouldn’t it therefore be better if smokers got their nicotine ‘hit’ without all the other rubbish contained in cigarettes, and thereby protect their health? And the health of those who inhale the ambient smoke left behind by the smoker? Most rational people would answer ‘yes’; but not the politicians who have seen fit to ban snus, a Swedish tobacco product that looks something like a tea bag, but contains tobacco instead of tea, and is placed between the teeth and gums of the user, allowing the nicotine to infuse into the bloodstream through the mucous membrane of the mouth.

It sounds like—and undoubtedly is—a pretty disgusting habit, but it harms no one but the one who indulges in it, and even then it harms him far less than does the alternative of smoking cigarettes. In Sweden, where the use of snus as a substitute for smoking is widespread, a study showed that snus users had a 40% higher incidence of heart disease than non-tobacco users, but for cigarette users, the figure was 85% higher.[1] The incidence of lung cancer is also much lower in Sweden.[2]

Now, smoking is becoming less convenient and less socially acceptable as a result of intensive government propaganda and legislation limiting the places where a smoker may indulge his habit. So smokers are increasingly looking for alternative means of catering to their nicotine addiction without actually smoking. One of these means is to use snus. The health of any smoker switching from tobacco to snus will improve, and he will suffer less social opprobrium; but governments, by banning snus, have deprived him of that option.

How can the politicians justify their decision? Their thinking seems to go along these lines: cigarettes are terribly harmful, but we can’t ban them for political reasons (smokers will stop voting for us); cigarettes are made of tobacco, therefore tobacco is bad; snus is made of tobacco, therefore snus must be just as harmful as cigarettes; there are hardly any snus users, so we can ban it without suffering the political fallout that would accrue from banning cigarettes; therefore we should ban snus.

This may seem perfectly logical to a politician, but not to anyone endowed with the faintest vestige of common sense. If you live in one of these places where healthier alternatives to smoking are banned, and you wish to save the lives of some of your fellow citizens, then write to your MP (or whatever the lawmakers are called in your jurisdiction) and ask them to overturn this ridiculous ban, or write to your local newspaper to raise awareness.

People should not die because of the stupidity of politicians.

1. Bolinder G, Alfedsson L, Englund A, de Faire U. Smokeless tobacco use and increased
cardiovascular mortality. Am. J. Publ. Hlth. 1994; 84:399-404.

2. La Vecchia C, Lucchini F, Negri E, Boyle P, Maisonneuve P, Levi F. Trends of cancer
mortality in Europe 1955-1989. II: Respiratory tract, bone, connective and soft tissue
sarcomas, and skin. Eur. J. Cancer 1989; 28:514-599.

Creative Commons License
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

Advertisements

6 Responses to You Snus You Win

  1. lewis says:

    Nice post. I find out something more tough on different blogs everyday. Most commonly it is stimulating to see content using their company writers and exercise a little something from their store. Id prefer to use with the content on my website whether an individual dont mind. Natually Ill provide you with a link on your web blog. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Piece of writing writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with then you can write or else
    it is difficult to write.

  3. I will immediately take hold of your rss as I can not find
    your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any?
    Kindly permit me know so that I may just subscribe.
    Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: