Health officials aim to snuff out snuff

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Health authorities are sounding the alarm over what some call an “epidemic” of snus (snuff) use among young Norwegians. Sales of the tobacco that now comes in packet form have tripled in recent years, raising the risk of diabetes, infertility and other ailments.

New studies show that use of what the Norwegians call snus (snuff) has especially risen in the age group 16-24, and that such usage can raise the risk of contracting various forms of cancer, diabetes type 2, obesity, stillbirths and infertility.

“There are alarmingly many young people using snus (pronounced “snoose”) in Norway,” Camilla Stoltenberg, director of the public health institute FHI (Folkehelseinstituttet) told state broadcaster NRK. She equated it to an epidemic, “because it’s a phenomenon that’s quickly increasing within the population.”

Snuff use became popular when Norway banned smoking several years ago but that doesn’t fully explain the recent increase in use. Health Minister Bent Høie, reluctant to ban the product or further restrict sales, said on national radio Wednesday morning “that we just have to make it seem disgusting to use snus.”

Other health officials weren’t as alarmed, claiming that they think snuff use has peaked and that it’s still better for people addicted to nicotine to use snuff than to smoke. There’s long been disagreement within the health care community over snuff, and the research leader of the state agency monitoring addiction, Karl Erik Lund, claimed it’s wrong to call current usage an epidemic.

newsinenglish.no staff