Tobacco Road Takes a Turn to the Smokeless

So whats all the hype about? Folks are saying that the New Age of Tobacco is upon us and that it will take many different forms. What are your thoughts? Do you think Snus will catch on? Do you know of folks that have switched? Those who tried to switch? Seems to already be a crowded arena?

Star Tobacco has been out there for some time and now Reynolds has joined the dissolvables tobacco offering. What do you think about the relative harm of these products? If you were a smoker and knew that there were less harmful products would you switch? Why? What would stop you? Take a few minutes and read the attached article that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal. What do you think of the article? Is Kevin on target? What obstacles does the Future of Tobacco have to overcome to be a success? Lots of questions to be asked! Let’s explore the future together as folks post their thoughts on this topic?


JANUARY 27, 2009

Tobacco Road Takes a Turn to the Smokeless


About 18 months ago, Russell Stevens gave up cigarettes and took up a new habit — placing between his lip and gum a tiny pouch of smokeless tobacco called Camel Snus. The 26-year-old Kentuckian says it satisfies his craving for nicotine while exposing him to far fewer risks than did smoking.

Like Mr. Stevens, more Americans are continuing to give up smoking, helping to push cigarette consumption down about 3% each year. To help kick the habit, many smokers turn to safer sources of nicotine — the addictive but non-carcinogenic ingredient in cigarettes — such as nicotine gum, patches or lozenges.

But one method that has been gaining ground as a safer alternative to cigarettes — smokeless tobacco — remains controversial. A decades-old federal law requires smokeless tobacco to carry a label warning that it is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. The perils include possibly increased risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. And U.S. public-health officials note that no clinical trials have been conducted showing that smokeless tobacco is an effective quitting aid. Adding to the controversy:  Some of the biggest cigarette makers are jumping into the non-combustible market.

R.J.Reynolds Tobacco

Tobacco makers are launching smokeless products that have fewer risks than cigarettes.

There is no evidence that smokers will switch to smokeless tobacco products and give up smoking,” Michael Thun, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, said in a recent article in the journal CA.

Still, popular brands of smokeless tobacco generally contain far fewer carcinogens than do cigarettes, although some studies indicate the habit isn’t risk-free. One recent study showed that some newer brands, with names like Ariva, Camel Snus and Marlboro Snus, have sharply lower levels of a dangerous carcinogen than do older varieties of smokeless tobacco, such as Copenhagen and Skoal. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, which sets health standards in the United Kingdom, has said smokeless tobacco is between one-tenth and one-one thousandth as hazardous as smoking, depending on the specific product. As with all nicotine-replacement products, smokeless tobacco can lead to addiction.

Morgan Stanley estimates that U.S. consumers spent $4.77 billion on smokeless tobacco in 2007 versus $78 billion on cigarettes. Smokeless-tobacco sales have been increasing about 5% or more a year.

Some switchers say the benefits of smokeless tobacco can be immediate and dramatic. After 30 years of smoking more than a pack a day, Deborah Barr required several respiratory medications just to breathe. An analysis of her lung capacity shocked her physician. “He said, ‘I’ve never seen anybody this bad,’ ” recalls Mrs. Barr, 53, of Richmond, Va. So she switched to Ariva, a tobacco pellet that dissolves in the mouth. “Within three days I could breathe without medication,” says Mrs. Barr, who smoked her last cigarette four years ago and still uses Ariva.

No Spitting

For many people, smokeless tobacco conjures up an image of a wad of chewing tobacco bulging from the cheeks of users who spit brown juice. Instead, recent products consist of dissolvable pellets or tiny pouches of tobacco that reside invisibly in the mouth and induce no spitting. The model for these new brands comes from Sweden, where use of spit-free smokeless tobacco, called snus, is more common among men than smoking.

Studies of Swedish snus users have found no elevated incidence of mouth cancer compared with the general population. Other studies, however, have linked snus consumption to cardiovascular disease, albeit at rates far below the risks of smoking, and some research has found a minor link with pancreatic cancer. Many of the studies were performed by the Swedish government, which discourages the use of snus and cigarettes.

Big U.S. cigarette makers have been staking out the smokeless tobacco field. Altria Group Inc., the nation’s largest cigarette maker, this month completed its $10.3 billion purchase of UST Inc., the biggest smokeless-tobacco maker and owner of the Copenhagen and Skoal brands. Reynolds American Inc., which owns Conwood Co., a discount smokeless purveyor, this month announced that the Camel Snus brand has performed well enough in test markets to warrant national distribution. Marlboro Snus is available in a few test markets.

“There are probably in excess of 400,000 adults switching to smokeless each year,” says Seth Moskowitz, a spokesman for Reynolds American. But the company doesn’t know whether switchers succeeded in permanently giving up their previous form of tobacco.

Tommy Payne, Reynolds American’s executive vice president of public affairs, says that he himself is a Camel Snus user. When asked, he says the product helped him successfully quit smoking, a habit he says he had practiced for “too long.”

Cutting Nitrosamines

A federally funded study by the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center found that Camel Snus, made by Reynolds American unit R.J. Reynolds, and Marlboro Snus, made by Altria’s Philip Morris unit, bear substantially lower levels of nitrosamines, the class of carcinogen that most concerns public-health officials, than do traditional brands. The study, published in the December issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a leading journal of researchers battling tobacco-caused disease, was similar to one done in 2006 measuring the carcinogen in Ariva and Stonewall, two smokeless-tobacco products made by tiny Star Scientific Inc.

“The reduction in carcinogenic…content in the new smokeless tobacco is encouraging,” concluded the authors, none of whom had financial ties to industry.

The December study also found that Marlboro Snus contained a very low level of nicotine. By contrast, Camel Snus offers a jolt of nicotine that “has the potential to satisfy those smokers who are looking for a substitute to smoking, and to keep them addicted to this product,” the authors said.

An Altria spokesman says the nicotine level of Marlboro Snus has been increased. “Our interest is offering Marlboro Snus to adult smokers who are interested in a smokeless alternative to cigarettes,” the spokesman says.

Purveyors of smokeless tobacco aren’t marketing it as a smoking-cessation aid, because doing so could force it off the shelves as an unapproved medical treatment. Makers of the products are beginning to push back against such limitations, although they haven’t yet altered their marketing pitches.

Star Scientific this month announced that a study it conducted of smokers in withdrawal found that its Stonewall smokeless tobacco and a nicotine lozenge, used separately, proved to be “much more effective” than placebos at satisfying cravings. And Reynolds American is calling for public-health officials to talk openly about the lower risks of non-combustible tobacco products. “I believe that governments, public-health associations, tobacco manufacturers and others should provide consumers with accurate information, based on sound science, on the different levels of risks posed by different types of tobacco products,” Susan Ivey, chairman of Reynolds American, said in a speech last year at the University of Arkansas.

Some smokers on their own have long viewed smokeless tobacco as a way out of their habit. During medical school in the early 1970s, Michael Moore was trying without luck to kick cigarettes when a fellow nicotine addict recommended that he switch to smokeless tobacco. The Minneapolis resident stopped smoking and used smokeless tobacco for decades, quitting two years ago at the urging of his loved ones. “I never saw anything in the scientific literature that convinced me it was very dangerous,” says Dr. Moore. As a psychiatrist, however, he concedes that rationalization is a symptom of addiction. Dr. Moore says he has no connection to anti-tobacco causes, although his father, a scientist, years ago contributed to research linking cigarettes to disease.



#1 Bertram52 on 02.02.09 at 8:14 AM

Does Star’s dream time of scientists understand that they will have do safety and toxicity on tobacco to get their stonewall approved for cessation use. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE!!!

#2 Bill Godshall on 02.02.09 at 6:30 PM

Star (and others) have been doing similar tests that drug companies have done for nicotine gums, lozenges, patches and inhalers.

The studies I’ve seen indicate that Star’s tobacco lozenges are virtually identical to GSK’s Commit lozenge, except the tobacco lozenges taste better and are less expensive.

If Star applies for, and if the FDA approves, Stonewall as a smoking cessation aid, public health could benefit significantly as millions more smokers could switch to smokeless tobacco products.

#3 Bertram52 on 02.02.09 at 6:48 PM

Bill, you are right but the key is “IF THE FDA APPROVES.” Star will need to ask the drug side of the FDA to approve safety and toxicity for tobacco. That’s going to be a hard, dare I say impossible sell. JUST IMO.

#4 Bill Godshall on 02.03.09 at 2:26 PM

While harm reduction opponents can scare the public by greatly exaggerating the health risks of the lowest nitrosamine smokeless tobacco products, the FDA regulates many food products that contian trace levels of carcigens.

After several case control studies are published finding that smokefree tobacco products (and/or other nicotine products like the e-cigarette, Nicogel, Aeros, etc.) can be as effective as NRT products for smoking cessation (which have a 7% success rate), it also will be more difficult for federal health agencies and anti tobacco extremists to continue denouncing tobacco harm reduction and misleading the public about risks and benefits of different tobacco/nicotine products.

It also would be helpful if the FDA approved the NY State Health Commissioner’s petition to encourage more smokers to use nicotine gum and lozenges by liberalizing usage recommendations, changing warning labels, and allowing their sale in daily dosage packages (priced similar to a pack of cigarettes or a can of smokeless) and at all stores that sell tobacco.

#5 Bertram52 on 02.03.09 at 3:40 PM

Yes, but you are talking about “studies” one the one hand, and deeply ingrained “bias” on the other. Marketing guys know to market to (and not against) bias.

Anyway, your posts are interesting as always.

#6 jancascade on 02.04.09 at 12:47 AM

The e-cigarette will find a huge market, it offers the nicotine and the feel of smoking wihtout all the nasty stuff in cigarettes. People can use them where they can no longer smoke. The do not advertise them as mdical devices, just as a cigarette substitute.

They may be healthier for people, but not so healthy for tobacco addicted government.

#7 Bertram52 on 02.04.09 at 6:39 AM

Jan, the e-cigarette is *not* a tobacco product. It is an unregulated pharmaceutical product that is subject to FDA regulation. I would not be so confident that the FDA will not elect to halt its sale pending a product approval (which would in turn imply marketing limitations for cessation).

#8 Bill Godshall on 02.04.09 at 5:49 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if the FDA bills soon to be introduced by Waxman and Kennedy contain new language that would ban nicotine products like the e-cigarette, Aeros & Nicogel.

Another thing to watch out for is the definition of what is and isn’t a tobacco product. I suspect that tobacco harm reduction opponents are trying to redefine tobacco lozenges and gums (and I suspect Reynold’s new Camel Orbs, Strips and Sticks) as not being tobacco products in an attempt to ban the products from the market.

#9 jancascade on 02.05.09 at 1:19 AM

Bill, I believe you are correct. The drug companies, the states and the tobacco companies will do their best to get alternatives banned.

I believe Australia has banned the e-cigarette, but citizens are buying them online and that is what will happen if htey are banned here too. Cuban cigars are banned in the US, but an awful lot of them make their way to our shores. If people want something, they will find a way to get it at a price they want to pay.

#10 Bill Godshall on 02.05.09 at 12:36 PM

Several countries have banned the e-cigarette (at the urging of anti tobacco/nicotine extremists) because its low hanging political fruit. And yet, none of those countries bans far deadlier cigarettes.

The tragic irony is that anti tobacco/nicotine extremists are protecting cigarette markets, but the ideologue extremists have convinced themselves to believe that banning e-cigarettes protects public health.

Truly amazing.

#11 jancascade on 02.05.09 at 1:10 PM

Banning a product and preventing Internet sales will be impossible to enforce. Once people have it, they will get the supplies for them online.

This will only hurt businesses that were selling them as their lose their clientele to the worldwide web.

Government only thinks it is in control.

#12 Troubadour on 02.05.09 at 10:46 PM

The FDA is supposed to protect folks but it seems to me that it’s greater interest is in protecting the Pharmaceutical industry’s interest of hooking people on NRT products that are lining their pockets with cash! Were talking about saving lifes here as a priority not lining the pockets of Big Pharma. It’s actually pretty disgusting when you think about it. It use to be big bad tobacco. Now the evil culprit is the alliance theat exists between big pharma and the FDA. Lets save lifes!

#13 Wonderboy on 02.06.09 at 12:55 AM

Bill – I believe your mistaken, The Aeros Smokeless cigarette delivers nicotine because I think it it is actually a tobacco product!

#14 Wonderboy on 02.06.09 at 12:58 AM

You are correct however that it’s a tragedy that new alternatives will be challenged ironically to protect the PM establishment and the Pizers of the world with little regard to the safeness of the alternatives. Keep the fight up for Moist Smokeless!

#15 Twin City Retailer on 02.08.09 at 2:48 PM

This weekend a story in the local paper contained a quote from an official of the Minnesota Department of Health, the institution responsible for regulating some of the nation’s most stringent and most restrictive smoking bans. Here’s what was said-
“Minnesota law appears to be on the side of the e-nonsmokers, according to Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the state Department of Health. He said the department studied the devices after getting a few calls during the past year from people wondering whether their use is permitted inside public places.
“It’s not smoking,” Schultz said. “They’re not ignited. They don’t use tobacco or a plant product. Our interpretation of the statute would be that these types of devices are allowable.'”

#16 Bill Godshall on 02.09.09 at 4:43 PM

I don’t think use of the e-cigarette violates any smokefree law in the US (or elsewhere), as they define smoking as the burning of a tobacco product.

The greatest legislative threat to the e-cigarette (in the US) is the FDA tobacco legislation. With a change of one sentence or perhaps just one or two words, the yet-to-be introduced FDA tobacco legislation could effectively ban the e-cigarette or any other tobacco or nicotine delivery product.

#17 jancascade on 02.09.09 at 5:45 PM

Would that be the same FDA that protects us from tainted food and lead toys from China?

The e-cigarette will continue to be sold, maybe not by US merchants, but they will be imported by individuals who wish to use them. Only US merchants will be harmed by a ban on sales, one less product to sell in their shops.

#18 Justin on 02.10.09 at 11:17 AM

I switched to Swedish snus a little over a week ago and haven’t smoked in three days (I smoke a pack a day for 15 years). Granted, this is not the Camel or Marlboro crap, but the imported stuff. It’s amazing how quickly I was able to stop…I rarely even think about a cig now.

#19 Bill Godshall on 02.10.09 at 11:36 AM

The FDA isn’t responsible (and shouldn’t be criticized) for the FDA tobacco legislation, as the legislation is the result of a negotiated agreement between Philip Morris executives/lawyers and Matt Myers (of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids) in 2004. The other part of the deal was that Kennedy, Waxman, DeWine and Davis agreed to co-sponsor the legislation (and to oppose all proposed amendments) if PM and Myers could reach a deal (and if Myers convinced ACS, AHA, ALA and others to endorse, which occurred the day after Myers agreed to the deal with PM). But since Kennedy endorsed two of Enzi’s amendments (during HELP Cmte markup in 2007) and since Waxman cut side deals with UST/Swedish Match, convenience stores and small manufactures (last year), the opportunity exists for additional amendments. While many of us are advocating harm reduction improvements to the bill, Waxman, Kennedy, CTFK, ACS, AHA, ALA continue opposing any changes to the legislation that would require the FDA to truthfully inform tobacco consumers of comparable risks of different tobacco products or that would encourage (or even allow) smokefree tobacco/nicotine products to effectively compete against cigarettes on the market.

#20 jancascade on 02.10.09 at 8:17 PM

Bill, thank you for setting the recored straight and giving us a road map to understanding the forces at play in FDA regulation of tobacco.

It appears harm reduction is not even on their radar screen. It is about money not health.

#21 TAZ on 02.12.09 at 12:01 AM


LSRO finds that smokeless tobacco products have lower risk
of adverse health effect than cigarettes and compares the risks
of smokeless tobacco product categories Press Release BETHESDA, MD – (February 3, 2009) — Each year, two thirds of smokers in the US say they want to quit smoking but less than 3% of those who try to quit are successful. Although no tobacco product is considered “safe”, studies have reported that different types of tobacco products are associated with different degrees of health risk. As a result, some have proposed that smokers who cannot or will not stop smoking switch to another type of tobacco product in an attempt to lower their risk for cigarette-smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

New Report Issued by LSRO
The Life Sciences Research Office, Inc. (LSRO),, conducted an independent, comprehensive evaluation of the scientific literature to compare the risk of use of smokeless tobacco products to smoking cigarettes, to identify the critical characteristics that contribute to an evaluation of risk, and to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to categorize smokeless tobacco products according to risk. LSRO convened an Expert Panel of scientists and physicians to deliberate these issues. The Differentiating Tobacco Risks (DTR) project, which was sponsored by Philip Morris USA, is a case study of LSRO’s Reduced Risk Review Project (RRRP), and utilized the risk assessment framework developed from the RRRP. The DTR Expert Panel’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations are described in the new report, “Differentiating the Health Risks of Categories of Tobacco Products.”

Key Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations
Smokeless tobacco products are reduced risk products compared to cigarettes.
There is insufficient information available to identify critical factors that contribute to risk
Based on available information, Swedish snus (moist snuff tobacco) poses the lowest risk of smokeless tobacco products, traditional American smokeless tobacco products (US smokeless tobacco products other than those recently developed) pose an intermediate risk, and international smokeless tobacco products (products other than those primarily used in the US and Sweden) poses the greatest health risk.
Considerable additional research on smokeless tobacco products that involves application of standardized methods is needed to better characterize risk of smokeless tobacco products.
# # #
For nearly half a century, the Life Sciences Research Office (LSRO) has provided expert, objective scientific opinions and evaluations to governmental agencies and leading corporations in the food, health and bioscience sectors. A non-profit organization originally established in 1962, LSRO provides independent science-based analysis and advice that has proven integral to the development of sound policies and regulations on the national and international level.
# # #
This study will be of interest to academic, government and industry researchers; tobacco control and public health organizations; agencies with regulatory oversight of tobacco products, such as the Federal Trade Commission; and individuals involved in the development of legislation providing regulatory authority over tobacco products, public health organizations and their staff.
The report will also be of interest to current smokers.
# # #
NOTE TO EDITORS: For further information about this study, please contact Michael Falk at 301.634.7030 or A copy of the report is available to the media. A free copy of the executive summary is available online at Purchase this report at

#22 Sunny on 02.12.09 at 11:24 PM


Why don’t you try and get your views on Fox news rather than talk to folks that get it. I think you should take your cause to Bill OReilly, Sean Hannity or what about Rush Limbaugh! I mean lets get it out there. Trying to convert the enemy is useless but lets get the info out to the public who can work on their representatives to have the truth exposed. What do you think?

#23 Bill Godshall on 02.13.09 at 11:10 AM

I’ve been informing anyone who will listen (and many who won’t, including many members of Congress and news media) about this since PM and Matt Myers negotiated and agreed to the FDA tobacco deal in 2004.

Unfortunatly, most national news media (especially the talking heads on cable TV) only become interested in a legislative issue the day before, during and after votes occur in the full House or Senate.

The key to improving the FDA tobacco legislation (i.e. to truthfully inform smokers about the significantly lower health risks of smokefree tobacco and nicotine alternatives) is to convince one or more US Senators to threaten a filibuster unless the change is made. NC Senator Richard Burr and KY Senator Mitch McConnell appear interested, but it would be nice to get more tobacco state senators interested (especially a Dem).

#24 TAZ on 02.13.09 at 11:25 AM

Bill can you provide a list of those that possibly could be persuaded to support the harm reduction cause?

#25 TAZ on 02.14.09 at 2:04 AM

Oregon: Health Groups Criticize Launch Of Camel Orb
Anti-smoking groups and health advocates in Oregon criticized the launch of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s “Camel Orb,” a new aspirin-sized dissolvable tobacco pellet in Portland stores. The company is also launching the product in Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. State epidemiologist Katrina Hedberg believes that the product is aimed at attracting children. The health groups said the launch comes at a time when a Statewide smoking ban in restaurants and bars took effect on January 1st. Portland Public Schools spokesperson Matt Shelby said although smoking and the use of other tobacco products are banned near schools or at any school event, children could use the new product without being caught (KGW Northwest NewsChannel 8 1/28).

#26 Bill Godshall on 02.15.09 at 3:40 PM

CTFK is fully aware that Reynolds is marketing Camel Snus, Orbs, Sticks and Strips to adult smokers as a smokefree alternative to cigarettes (as they’ve criticized Reynolds for that too).

Unfortunately for public health and integrity, CTFK continues making false accusations against against Reynolds (claiming the product is being marketed to youth) in an attempt to shock the public, and ban the products (even though they are the least hazardous tobacco products ever made).

#27 Bill Godshall on 02.15.09 at 4:24 PM

Per Taz’s inquiry, the health groups that are advocating smokeless tobacco for harm reduction, and that advocate harm reduction improvements to the FDA bill include: American Council on Science and Health, American Association of Public Health Physicians, Smokefree Pennsylvania (my organization), and Scott Ballin’s AHEAD.

Although UST, Swedish Match, Star (and perhaps other small smokeless manufacturers) strongly support tobacco harm reduction, they cut deals with Waxman last year (and endorsed the legislation). But though they’d love to see harm reduction changes to the bill.

Reynolds is the only major manufacturer advocating tobacco harm reduction changes to the FDA bill.

Now that Altria bought UST, Altria now has a vested financial interest in harm reduction improvements to the FDA bill. But since Altria negotiated and agreed to the deal back in 2004, they are not likely to publicly endorse any harm reduction changes to the legislation (as doing so would be going back on their deal with Waxman and Kennedy). But Altria (like UST, SM and Star) almost certainly will be pleased if harm reduction improvements are made to the bill.

As far as allies in the news media, Wall Street Journal and Washington Times are very likely to support harm reduction improvements to the legisalation.

#28 Bill Godshall on 02.15.09 at 4:31 PM

As for other potential supporters, several dozen other public health advocates have privately informed me of their support for tobacco harm reduction, and some have privately informed me of their support for harm reduction changes to the FDA bill. But I’m still waiting for them to go public (and tell members of Congress, the news media, etc.).

#29 John Lauterbach on 02.16.09 at 11:42 PM

Before we get too far down the road on smokeless tobacco, we need to ask a basic question.

Why do regulators (and others who read the literature) know more about the tobaccos and ingredients (as well as compounds in mainstream smoke) in many leading brands of cigarettes than we do about the tobaccos and ingredients in the leading brands of smokeless tobacco products?

#30 Bill Godshall on 02.17.09 at 12:58 PM

I’m not aware of any evidence to substantiate John’s assertion that regulators know more about cigarettes and smoke than they do about smokeless tobacco, especially since no federal government agency is authorized to regulate the content of tobacco products.

Regardless, there is no evidence that the health risks of repeatedly inhaling tobacco smoke can be reduced by reducing or increasing (or by banning) any ingredient, additive or other component of cigarettes. And there is no evidence that the health risks of tobacco smoke can be reduced by reducing or increasing any component in tobacco smoke.

Its the smoke (not the tobacco or the nicotine) that is causes 99% of tobacco attributable diseases. Those who continue to claim that “smokeless is not a safe alternative” (as the US Department of Defense just did) are knowingly misleading smokers (and the public) about the comparable health risks of different tobacco products (because they don’t want anyone to use any tobacco product). But hypocritically, most tobacco harm reduction opponents insist that smokers should use nicotine gum, lozenges or patches (all of which are made from tobacco) to quit using tobacco.

#31 John Lauterbach on 02.17.09 at 3:31 PM

Bill, thank you for your comments.

There are numerous articles in peer-reviewed literature and conference proceedings on what is typically in cigarette tobacco and cigarette smoke along with the methods to use to do the measurements. Some of this is free just for pointing your browser to the Beitraege web site ( You may also want to ask the folks at CDC in Atlanta for copies of their recent publications on cigarettes and cigarette smoke.

If you are somewhat more ambitous. point your browser to For example, if you go to “Expert Search”, search only B&W documents and use au:alford or au:moldoveanu, you will see what I mean.

If you look at the epidemiology on cigarette smoking (particularly work by Peter N. Lee), you will see that all dark air-cured cigarettes have consistently been shown to be worse than all flue-cured cigarettes.

I have some of the relevant documents on my web site.

#32 EX WS on 02.17.09 at 3:40 PM


So what are you inferring regarding moist smokeless tobacco in your earlier entry. Aren’t there folks out there that have similar reports on moist tobacco?

#33 John Lauterbach on 02.17.09 at 4:00 PM

There are some reports on detailed composition of moist snuff around, but they are dated and may not reflect what is currently on the marketplace. Also, most moist snuff products use fermented tobaccos and composition will change depending on age and storage conditions.

Also, a journal article, which I coauthored with scientists at Labstat, detailing the toxicology and some chemistry of contemporary smokeless products on the Canadian market will be in March 2009 issue of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Please let me know if you would like a reprint.

#34 Bill Godshall on 02.18.09 at 3:43 PM

While I agree with John that more studies have documented (and articles have been published) about differences in cigarette tobaccos, additives and components (and cigarette smoke constituents) than has occurred for smokeless tobacco, I’m not aware that federal regulators are more knowledgable about the former than the latter (or that they know anything about either).

Interestingly, last summer the FDA recently issued a formal response to the NY State Health Commissioner (regarding his petition to make nicotine gum, lozenges and skin patches more accessible and affordable) claiming that the FDA didn’t have sufficient expertise to evaluate the petition.

But my point is that there is no evidence that any regulation or standards for cigarette contents or smoke emissions can reduce the health risks of deeply inhaling cigarette smoke 200 times daily for decades.

Filtered, lights, ultralights, no additive, no nicotine, and organic cigarettes are just as hazardous (to users and to secondhand smokers) as nonfiltered full flavor cigarettes made in countries without pesticide regs.

All cigarettes are 100 times deadlier than any commonly used smokeless tobacco product in the US, while snus and other low nitrosamine smokeless tobacco products pose even fewer risks (with some beiing nearly identical to nicotine lozenges and gums that are marketed as smoking cessation aids).

Smokefree tobacco/nicotine products are the only viable harm reduction alternatives to cigarettes.

#35 John Lauterbach on 02.18.09 at 9:17 PM


One of the issues on smokefree products is how different commercial smokeless products are from medicinal nicotine in terms of their chemistry and toxicology. One point of potential contention is that even products that meet the GothiaTek (TM) standard cause a reportedly high percentage of oral lesions (snus-induced lesions). The toxicants and/or toxins responsible for such lesions apparently have not been identified. Some contemporary products also give positive responses with in vitro bioassays for genotoxicity. The regulators need understanding of the chemistry, microbiology, and toxicology of smokeless products along with an understanding of what is there in terms of additives, processing aids, and agrochemical residues. In terms of regulatory acceptance, it would be better if the data and interpretations came from independent sources such as my company. I know where and how to get the work done and how to interpret the data. I just need funding.

#36 Bill Godshall on 02.19.09 at 11:24 AM


Snus caused oral lesions have been extensively studied, and there is no evidence that they develop into oral cancers. And well over 99% of oral lessions (caused by US moist snuff or chewing tobacco) never develop into oral cancers.

Cigarettes cause the deaths of about 440,000 Americans each year (including nearly 5000 from oral cancer), while smokeless tobacco is attributable for no more than several hundred oral cancer deaths.

The chief public health priority (in regulating tobacco) should be to reduce cigarette diseases and deaths, which can be achieved by truthfully informing the public (especially smokers) that smokefree tobacco/nicotine products pose 1% of the risks of cigarettes.

That said, the first product regulation standards for smokeless tobacco products (if/when FDA is authorized to regulate tobacco) is likely to be something similar to the voluntary GothiaTec standard in Sweden. And I’d likely support that.

But I don’t understand why some folks think it a greater public health priority to further reduce the health risks of the least hazardous tobacco products ever made, even if doing so continues to perpetuate the deaths of 440,000 smokers every year for future decades.

Seems like the tail wants to wag the dog.

#37 LOU on 03.04.09 at 3:48 PM

By Howard Riell
Convenience Store Decisions
March 4, 2009

Despite the SCHIP bill, smokeless tobacco products will see a strong year packed with innovation, new flavors and increased consumer demand.

A perfect storm of societal, legislative, retail and economic factors in
2009 appears poised to push sales of smokeless products – the fastest-growing tobacco category – higher than ever.

Convenience store retailers and marketers of such leading brands as Copenhagen, Skoal, Redman, Timberwolf, Kodiak, Red Seal, Rooster, Grizzly, Husky and Longhorn have already seen a flurry of activity on several fronts whose effects will undoubtedly carry into the new year and beyond.

Over the last 24 months, for example, Americas two largest cigarette makers, R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris USA, have made major inroads into the smokeless category to support the decreasing number of cigarette smokers. Each has acquired smokeless companies and introduced smokeless pouches, or snus, spit-free products that are placed under the lip.

New products and line extensions are coming rapidly. As CSD reported in January, Pilot Travel Centers in Knoxville, Tenn., has begun testing an e-cigar, a product that looks and feels like a premium cigar but uses a microchip and nicotine-infused liquid to produce an inhalable vapor.
Ultimately, it lets users get the smoking experience without secondhand smoke.

Star Scientific Inc.s Ariva and Stonewall dissolvable smoke-free tobacco is also gaining a national audience and attracting attention from other tobacco companies. At the NACS Show last October, Reynolds showed off a dissolvable tablet called Camel Orb that hit store shelves in Portland, Ore., Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis in January.

Beyond that, President Barack Obama is said to be eager to sign a bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) that would give the FDA power to regulate tobacco. Congressional Democrats have also pushed legislation that would raise cigarette taxes by 61 cents, to $1 a pack, and use the money to fund an expansion of SCHIP, the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. A version of that bill passed Congress twice in recent years, but was vetoed by former President Bush. At presstime, Congress passed SCHIP and it is expected to be signed into legislation by President Obama.

Focusing In

“The last two years have been great with smokeless tobacco, with double-digit increases,” said John Kelly, chief operating officer and vice president of operations for Mountain Empire Oil Co. in Johnson City, Tenn.., which operates nearly 50 convenience stores under the Roadrunner Markets banner. “We really started focusing in on the category more than we ever had two-and-a-half or three years ago, and weve really seen great returns on that. Because weve had such great growth with it its kind of gotten exciting, so weve dug more into it than we might have in the past.”

“Digging into it” has meant expanding the number of SKUs it carries from 40 to 58, more promotions and planogram reviews twice a year with all major suppliers. “We try to have a consistent set in all our stores,” Kelly said.
“About 80% of stores share the same layout. Well never get to 100% exactly the same, but we try and get a consistent layout in our tobacco planogram..”

A majority of Mountain Empires units are located in northeast Tennessee, but a few of the stores are in southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. Most stores use a 3-foot-wide-by-84-inch-tall fixture for all smokeless, cigars and scrap tobacco. “Its a large piece,” said Kelly, “so some of the smaller stores might not be able to handle that.”

Much of what will happen to the category in 2009, Kelly said, has to do with what goes on with tobacco regulation and tobacco taxes. “Whether or not the tax structure changes is going to determine a lot,” he said, adding that much will also hinge on what companies like RJ Reynolds do with snus, which was set to roll out nationwide in the first quarter of 2009.

“I still think that category is going to take several, several years to come into play, so that might not be much of a factor,” Kelly said. “I think its a great product, and its going to be interesting to watch it. I just dont think right off the bat people are going to understand just what it is. Theyre going to think its just another tobacco product.”

“I think that the category is going to continue moving forward the way it has,” said Lou Maiellano, president of TAZ Marketing & Consulting Group in Levittown, Pa., “This is especially true as folks learn more about the relative reduction in harm that comes from moist smokeless tobacco.”

Smoking restrictions are the other major factor, Maiellano said, though he pointed out that “you are finding in places that people are imposing restrictions even when it comes to moist tobacco.”

Category Growing

David Sutton, spokesman for Altria Group, which owns Philip Morris USA, recently said smokeless category sales are rising between 6-8% per year, even as cigarette sales fall 2-3% each year.

Upon acquiring UST, Altria told CSD that category success with Marlboro Snus in test markets like Dallas/Ft. Worth, Indianapolis and Atlanta has come as a result of “clear communications, product availability and freshness.” In early January, Altria Group Inc. said it completed its $10..4 billion acquisition of smokeless-tobacco maker UST Inc.

“Conwood Tobacco several years ago became much more of a player, even before RJ Reynolds purchased them, and I think that forced USST to focus more on their game and get sharper,” Kelly suggested.

But future growth in the category could depend on what happens with the SCHIP bill, said Jody Benson, tobacco category manager for Kum & Go, the West Des Moines, Iowa-based operator of 430 units in 12 states.

“Any federal regulation that is put in place is going to be critical for cigarettes as well as smokeless,” Benson said. SCHIP is a federal program that gives funds to states in order to provide health insurance to families with children. It would increase the federal excise tax on both cigarettes and smokeless products.

“Such an increase in the excise tax means a higher cost to the consumer because obviously we would pass that cost along, as all retailers would,”
Benson said. “It also would mean loss of volume and less sales, obviously..”

For Kum & Go, as for other operators, the task ahead is “more about making sure were competitively priced so that consumers will continue to shop in our stores for that product,” Benson said. “Its making sure we have the right products in stock, the right distribution for our consumers. If people are unsure about whether youre going to have the product today they might shop somewhere else tomorrow. Its making sure were in stock of all the brands people want.”

Due to regional differences in the market, Kum & Go sets all of its store planograms on a state-by-state basis. “Promotions are always great because they help us bring the prices down for the consumers. We always look for promotions,” Benson said.

Like other retailers, Kum & Go has responded to trends by increasing the amount of space it devotes to smokeless over the past year, from two feet to three feet, or about half of its UST fixture. “There has been so much growth thanks to new brands that have been launched, and those that have extended their brand styles,” Benson said.

More Change Ahead

The changes associated with growth will continue to reshape the smokeless category through 2009, most agree. Maiellano pointed to societal trends as supporting the categorys growth. “Over time, in the minds of consumers, the social acceptability of smokeless use has been on the rise,” he said.
“Smokeless has also been getting more media attention, which has helped drive awareness of the category.”

The national rollout of Camel snus in 2009, like the acquisition of UST by Philip Morris, shows the tobacco companies commitment to the category, Maiellano said.

Evolving consumer segments also offer opportunity. Some industry watchers have suggested that smokeless companies need to work harder to reach new adults.

According to the annual “Monitoring the Future” study at the University of Michigan, cigarette smoking rates among new legally-aged adults continued to drop last year while their smokeless tobacco use remained steady.

Kelly concurred with those who say cigarette smokers are switching to smokeless due to restrictions on smoking. “People who choose to use tobacco products are going to use them in one form or another, whether its smoke or nonsmoking. Weve just got to have it available for them,” he said.

Continued success at Mountain Empire will be based on its ability to team up with vendors it trusts and who can help them develop planograms.

“Relationships and trust go a long way,” Kelly said. “I suggest everyone should talk to several vendors, see who you think is shooting straight with you, and work with those guys.”

One thing that will probably not change is the medias volley of negative health coverage.

“Some experts say using snus is less risky than smoking a cigarette, but its like saying you can reduce your harm if you jump out of a fifth-story window instead of a 20th-story window,” said Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California-San Francisco.

The future of smokeless, however, is still very bright, Maiellano insisted, especially with the addition of snus products. “Retail execution is much better than its ever been,” he said. “Folks realize there is an opportunity here. It is also a very crowded field. Not that its everywhere, but there is an array of snus-like products that is also going to encourage the growth in moist smokeless tobacco.”

Helping retailers get the message, Maiellano said, are the tobacco companies themselves who are working hard to educate them.

#38 TAZ on 04.20.09 at 9:47 AM

Reynolds American Inc. will launch its premium moist smokeless tobacco product Camel Dip in test markets in Colorado and Florida beginning in mid-June in two styles – Dark Milled and Wintergreen Wide Cut, and will distribute the product through its Conwood subsidiary, making it the first time that the company markets a Camel product outside R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Winston-Salem Journal 04/20)

#39 Bill Godshall on 04.20.09 at 11:18 AM

Camel Dip to be test marketed
Smokeless tobacco product to be available in Colorado, Florida

By Richard Craver
Winston-Salem Journal
April 20, 2009

Reynolds American Inc.’s bid to make Camel a comprehensive tobacco brand has placed the manufacturer between the cheek and gum of users.

The company will launch Camel Dip, a premium moist smokeless product, in test markets in Colorado and Florida beginning in mid-June.

Camel Dip will be distributed through Reynolds’ Conwood Co. subsidiary, making it the first time that the manufacturer has marketed a Camel product outside R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Camel Dip, which is expected to sell at retail for $4.50 to $5 a tin, will compete with Conwood’s Kodiak and Philip Morris USA’s Copenhagen and Skoal brands. It will make its debut in two styles — Dark Milled, a traditional, fine-cut product, and Wintergreen Wide Cut.

David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds, said that Reynolds is not worried about hurting its Kodiak sales with the Camel brand expansion.

“We’re introducing another high-quality product through an iconic brand name into a definite growth category for the company and in the industry,” Howard said.

It is the latest smokeless spinoff for Camel, which includes a snus product in national distribution and three dissolvable smokeless products in test markets — a pellet (Camel Orbs), a twisted stick the size of a toothpick (Camel Sticks) and a film strip for the tongue (Camel Strips).

It also represents another potential major rival in the increasingly competitive moist smokeless category.

Skoal, Copenhagen and Grizzly all have between 22 percent and 24 percent U.S. market share, according to Bill Godshall, the executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania. Godshall is an outspoken advocate of noncombustible tobacco products as a reduced-risk option for smokers.

Reynolds is staking its future on smokeless tobacco products, investing resources into innovation and pushing hard for language creating a niche for tobacco products with potential reduced health risk in any potential federal regulation of the industry.

Smoking bans and health concerns have led to declines in cigarettes of between 3 percent and 4 percent a year. By comparison, smokeless-tobacco sales are growing by about 4.5 percent a year.

“If marketed to smokers, Camel Dip will benefit public health since smokefree tobacco products are far less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes, and there’s no secondhand smoke,” Godshall said.

However, other anti-smoking activists oppose marketing smokeless tobacco under cigarette brand names. They view smokeless products as a gateway to cigarettes, particularly for youth.

Tommy Payne, the executive vice president of public affairs for Reynolds, said that Reynolds is not rushing smokeless products to market to beat potential FDA regulation.

“The devil is in the details regarding how smokeless innovation would be handled in the House bill,” Payne said. He said that there is a different standard for new-to-the-marketplace products compared with the introduction of products similar to those already available.

Expanding the Camel brand into moist snuff is a calculated risk for Reynolds, said Stephen Pope, the chief global-market strategist with Cantor Fitzgerald Europe.

“If Camel Dip is really dip, and not snus, an unwelcome side effect is that the use of dip is often related to spitting, which is not a pleasant habit,” Pope said. “There could be a backlash of adverse publicity against the Camel name if the Dip products lead to this behavior.”

Richard Craver can be reached at 727-7376 or at

#40 Smokeless Tobacco: Ingredients and Risks on 01.30.10 at 4:18 AM

[…] products please visit Smokeless Tobacco.Related blog postsSmokeless Tobacco Ingredients and RisksTobacco Road Takes a Turn to the Smokeless ? TobaccoTodayFDA to investigate tobacco ingredientsThe New FDA Guidance on the Listing of Ingredients in Tobacco […]

#41 fred on 09.25.10 at 11:26 AM

When will camel dip get to iowa.thanks

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