Spat soars over snuff

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A public quarrel has erupted over the tobacco Norwegians call snus (snuff), after state researcher criticized state officials for not promoting it as a means to help Norwegians stop smoking. Health authorities claim he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“No research has documented that using snus is an effective way to stop smoking,” Dr Maja-Lisa Løchen, a professor of preventive medicine at the Univerity of Tromsø, told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. “On the contrary, some smokers can wind up using both forms of tobacco.” Løchen claimed that snus, now often sold in the form of small pouches that users stick under their lips to absorb nicotine, can also increase the risk of other forms of cancer.

She said she was “furious” that Aftenposten “gave so much space” to a story over the weekend about Karl Erik Lund, of the state institute for alcohol and drug research SIRUS, who believes the state should start “telling the truth” that snus is “much less dangerous” than smoking.

That’s not going to happen, according to officials at the state health ministry, who also view snus as addictive and aren’t about to recommend it. Many European countries ban snus, but it’s allowed to be sold in Norway and Sweden, which have a long tradition of its use.

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