“a treat not a treatment”? origins of tobacco industry efforts to promote smokeless tobacco for harm reduction
Methods: Qualitative analysis of previously secret tobacco industry documents triangulated with data from national newspapers, trade press, Internet.
Results: After the 1964 Surgeon General's report, tobacco companies recognized that the image of cigarette smoking would deteriorate, and considered producing ST products which delivered nicotine satisfaction as a convenient and desirable treat not a treatment for smokers. Internal studies confirmed some consumers perceived ST as safer than cigarettes. Absence of warning labels reinforced perceptions of relative ST safety. In the late 1980s, public discourse emphasized a lawsuit filed by the family of Sean Marsee, a high school athlete who developed mouth cancer from using snuff, which drew public attention to ST dangers and predatory marketing targeting youth. However, by the early 2000s tobacco companies planned to advertise new smokeless products as a reduced-harm alternative to cigarettes. In 2002 USST filed a request to the FTC for permission to claim in advertisements that using snuff was safer than smoking. Subsequently, several scientists and organizations with financial ties to the industry endorsed the use of ST for cessation, and public discussion shifted to harm reduction.
Discussion: Promotion of ST as reduced-harm product is a strategy used by tobacco companies to maintain sales that has gained success with what appears to be third party scientific endorsements. This strategy is similar to past industry attempts to manipulate science on secondhand smoke.
Learning Areas:Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Describe origins of tobacco industry strategies to promote smokeless tobacco for harm reduction. Describe tobacco industry ties to scientists and third-party groups that have historically been allies or received industry funding. Compare current and past strategies used to promote harm reduction products.
Keyword(s): Spit Tobacco, Tobacco Industry
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a postdoctoral fellow with training and expertise in tobacco control research, health communication and policy promotion.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.