South Africa and Canada
When we began test marketing in South Africa in 2005, we hoped that we would get the necessary public health and regulatory support that would allow us to communicate with consumers, owing to the scientifically proven harm reduction potential of snus. This did not happen, making it extremely difficult to communicate with consumers to provide them with product information regarding the relative risks of snus and cigarettes. Retail display bans in Canada and other tobacco control regulations have also made it difficult to build awareness. Consumer uptake has therefore been low, and we have as a result scaled back both test markets and put our plans to move into a new test market in 2011 on hold.
Sweden and Norway
The situation in South Africa and Canada is in contrast to that in Sweden and Norway, where snus use continued to grow in 2010. In both countries, a reduction in smoking prevalence among men has been associated with an increase in snus use.
Snus is a traditional tobacco product in Sweden that has been used for hundreds of years. Sweden obtained an exemption from the1992 European Union-wide ban on sales of snus. Snus is not a traditional product in Norway, but Norwegian tobacco consumers do have access to some advice on different tobacco product choices. For example, while the health authorities in Norway do not recommend the use of snus as a method of quitting smoking, they have agreed that health care personnel can recommend snus in individual cases of habitual smokers.
In Sweden, the overall level of tobacco consumption has stayed the same over the past 25 years, but there has been a continuing trend away from cigarette smoking while snus use has increased. Sweden has a lower rate of male lung cancer incidence than any comparable developed nation. Oral cancer rates have decreased and cardiovascular health has significantly improved [ 1,2 ]
A consistent finding in Sweden is that the quit rate for smoking is higher for snus users than for smokers who have no experience of snus. Observational data indicate that snus has been used more often than pharmaceutical nicotine products by some men as an aid to stop smoking. According to a report by the EU SCENIHR (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks) on ‘Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco Products’, the data is consistent in demonstrating that these male snus users are more likely to quit smoking than non-users.
In Norway, the use of snus as a smoking cessation aid has been supported by the results of studies by the Norwegian Institute of Alcohol and Drug Research [ 3 ].
Consistent with Swedish studies, the Norwegian data show that being a former smoker is associated with an increased probability of using snus. The results show that compared to smokers with no experience of using snus, the quit ratio for smoking was higher for daily snus users, higher for former snus users but lower for occasional snus users. Decreases in smoking incidence in recent years in Norway, from 24.5 per cent in 2004 to 19.6 per cent in 2009, have been accompanied by increases in snus use, from 4.9 per cent in 2004 to 8.6 per cent in 2009 [ 4,5 ].
For Norway, where the snus category is becoming increasingly popular, our focus in 2010 has been on developing consumer-relevant innovations for potential launch in the next three years.
- , J., et al., ‘Effect of smokeless tobacco (snus) on smoking and public health in Sweden’, Tobacco Control 2003; 12; 349–59)
- Rosen, M., et al., ‘Attack rate, mortality and case fatality for acute myocardial infarction in Sweden during 1987–95) Results from the National AMI register in Sweden’. J. Intern. Med., 2000, 248, 159-64
- Lund et al., ‘The association between use of snus and quit rates for smoking: results from seven Norwegian cross-section studies’. Addiction, 2010, doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03122.x.
- Lund et al., 'The use of snus for quitting smoking compared with medicinal products'. Nicotine and Tobacco Research Advance Access, 2010.
- Lund et al, 'The association between use of snus and quit rates for smoking: results from 7 Norwegian cross-sectional studies'. Addiction 2010, doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03122.x.