Differentiating the Health Risks of Categories of Tobacco Products

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), www.lsro.org, 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.

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