A Rarely Seen Side of the Tobacco Story

     Amidst media coverage of Big Tobacco, one reporter has shown another side of the story – little tobacco?

     As the March 27 Wall Street Journal reported, those who want to quit smoking might try tobacco. Smokeless tobacco.

     According to the Health Journal story, smokeless tobacco gives buyers the nicotine they crave “while posing a substantially reduced health risk compared with smoking.”

      Try less than one-tenth the risk of smoking. “Low-nitrosamine smokeless tobacco poses 10% or less of the health risks of cigarettes, according to various studies, including a 2004 National Cancer Institute-funded article,” wrote the Journal.

     The story emphasized the positive impact of smokers switching to smokeless. “There’s no question that switching to spit tobacco and quitting tobacco altogether are both far less lethal than continuing to smoke,” the story quoted Michael Thun, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

     One key component for would-be chewers, according to the article, is the level of carcinogens and that can vary from brand to brand – even within the same manufacturer. The story cited information about a “relatively new brand” made by UST (NYSE:UST) named Revel. That brand out-tested the more well-known UST product Copenhagen.

     Writer Kevin Helliker addressed one of the obvious holes in his story – comments from the tobacco companies themselves. “The tobacco industry, cautious about making any health claims for its smokeless products, generally doesn’t comment on scientific reports about them,” he wrote.

     In other words, they avoid saying anything that can, and will, be used against them in a court of law by lawsuit-happy attorneys.