Smokeless tobacco is taking to the airways by advertising their product in airline magazines. We aren’t talking about your granddaddy’s loose-style tobacco he carried in a pouch and spit out. This is the neat, modern version in a little, individual, teabag-type pouch that you tuck along your gum and never have to spit.
The above advertisement ran in the October 2011 issue of US Airways magazine. Camel plays to the airplane theme by arranging their Snus cans in the shape of airplane seats and sliding window shades. A little Snus pouch sits on the Snus-can seat looking like a welcoming little pillow. The ad beckons smokers to “enjoy first-class flavor” while the Camel mascot urges them to “break free,” R.J. Reynold’s catch-phrase for their Camel smokeless, spitless tobacco products. There is a mandatory health warning on the full page ad which takes up about 20% of the page, but no warnings are shown on the cans which by law are required to carry a warning when sold to consumers. If all the cans were depicted as they should be, an additional 11 health warnings would grace the ad. Not very appealing to customers to see health warnings splashed across a page when you are trying to sell a product.
If you check out the Camel Snus internet site, it claims their product is pasteurized through a slow cooking process. This makes it different from other kinds of smokeless tobacco, like Copenhagen. The process is supposed to lower the concentrations of nitrosamines and other carcinogens, but it does not eliminate them. Current research on smokeless tobacco is focusing on pancreatic cancer due to the tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). The TSNAs are the only component of tobacco shown to induce pancreatic cancer in laboratory animals. Kids know milk is made safe through pasteurization, and mentioning how they treat the tobacco could imply that Snus is somehow made into a safer tobacco product.
The nicotine levels in Snus is also worrisome as a single dose, or one pouch, has about 8 mg of nicotine, higher than what is found in other chewing tobaccos. An earlier version that was test marketed in the U.S. contained only 2 mg of nicotine leading to some concern that R.J. Reynolds manipulated the nicotine levels. More nicotine makes this a highly addictive product. Since the flavors lasts between 10 and 30 minutes, you will need to use more of it, causing more nicotine to be absorbed into your system.
The product may claim to be safer, but you still have the same health risks as if you used chewing tobacco. Higher nicotine levels cause elevations in blood pressure and hypertension, leading to heart disease. Holding tobacco in your mouth produces bad breath, stained teeth, and possible sores at the point of placement. This “safer” product is still tobacco with health risks.
If you want to get that first class feeling when you fly, give up the tobacco completely and save your money for that upgrade to your ticket. You will be much healthier for it.