WASHINGTON (April 13, 2015) – The R Street Institute expressed disappointment and alarm at the decision by a key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel to bar Swedish Match of North America from eliminating misleading warnings on its snus products.

Currently mandated snus warnings allege risk of mouth cancer, tooth and gum disease and health risks similar to that of cigarettes. The company requested that these warnings be replaced with a warning that, while not totally safe, these snus products present far less health risk than cigarettes.

“The denial of Swedish Match’s application represents a victory for Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, but a major loss for public health,” said Dr. Joel Nitzkin, R Street senior fellow and former co-chair of the Tobacco Control Task Force of the American Association of Public Health Physicians. “If allowed to stand, this action will reaffirm cigarettes as the primary means of nicotine delivery in the United States, and will protect cigarettes from competition from less-addictive and far less-hazardous nicotine-delivery products, which could substantially reduce future rates of tobacco-related addiction, illness and death.”

Nitzkin said the ruling also would protect Big Pharma and prevent competition from these relatively low-risk products, which could prove to be more effective for smoking cessation and more attractive to smokers than the current pharmaceutical options.

“A major flaw in the panel’s approach was to disregard the potential public health benefits of the action requested,” said Nitzkin. “Cigarettes are the most hazardous and most addictive of nicotine-delivery products. Consumers deserve to be told that alternative products, such as snus, present far less health risk.”

Nitzkin stated that reversing this decision could pave the way for a tobacco harm-reduction initiative that would secure personal and public health benefits in excess of those achievable with current tobacco-control programming.



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