Monday, April 26, 2010

Smokeless Tobacco Risks 'Overblown'?

The Wall Street Journal "Numbers Guy" blog said that while smokeless tobacco products remain far less popular than cigarettes in the United States, a collection of products that deliver nicotine without smoke—including dip, chew, snuff and newer items that look more like chewing gum—have sparked a heated debate about health risks.

Opponents of these products have presented numbers that suggest smokeless tobacco is an enormous public-health threat akin to cigarettes, while supporters, including some scientists, suggest smokeless items could offer a solution to smoking's toll on public health. Both claims are based on misinterpretations of the data, said the report.

Critics of smokeless tobacco have spoken out recently about elevated risks of oral cancer and dangers these items pose to children who accidentally ingest them. All of these risks appear to be overblown, said the blog, particularly compared with smoking, which is far more likely to kill than smokeless alternatives.

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