Smokeless tobacco isn't an effective method of quitting smoking. The U.S. Public Health Service has stated that “the use of smokeless tobacco products is not a safe alternative to smoking, nor is there evidence to suggest that it is effective in helping smokers quit.” In fact, new smokeless tobacco products are being marketed as a way to get a nicotine fix when smokers can't smoke, which discourages smokers from quitting.
The tobacco companies have long marketed smokeless tobacco to kids and successfully transformed smokeless tobacco from a product used by older men to one used by boys and young men. Smokeless tobacco use by Oklahoma high school boys is more than 40 percent higher than the national rate. Surely we don't want to send the message to kids that smokeless tobacco is safe or acceptable.
If tobacco companies want to promote smokeless tobacco to help smokers quit, or claim a tobacco product is less harmful, they should follow established federal Food and Drug Administration procedures. They haven't. Oklahoma shouldn't be helping tobacco companies market their harmful and addictive products. We should be working to protect kids and save lives.
McGoldrick is vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.