World Cancer Day - "The Swedish snus effect is needed in the US"
World Cancer Day takes place every year on 4 February. We see it as an opportunity to spread awareness about what we can do to reduce the number of people who get cancer.
World Cancer Day was established 23 years ago on the International Union Against Cancer initiative and is one of the UN's international days. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of cancer worldwide.
Although the harmful health effects of tobacco smoking are well known, smoking is still the leading preventable cause of cancer worldwide. Every year, over 7 million people die as a direct result of tobacco smoking.
However, there are countries in the world that stand out. One such country is Sweden, which is best placed to reach the target of less than 5% of the adult population being daily smokers. A Swedish Public Health Agency survey shows that only 6% of the population reported daily tobacco smoking.
Sweden also has the lowest number of smoking-related deaths among men in Europe, the lowest number of smoking-related deaths from lung cancer, and the lowest number of smoking-related new cancer cases. The explanation is that men in Sweden have long been using oral tobacco (Swedish snus) instead of smoking. More recently, nicotine pouches have taken a share of that market.
In countries with a more permissive attitude towards alternative nicotine products, such as nicotine pouches, the proportion of smokers is lower or decreases faster. In countries that discourage alternative nicotine products, the fight against smoking is lacking behind.
The fight against cancer must be two-folded. Not only do more people need to survive cancer, but it is just as crucial that fewer people get it in the first place.
The latter needs more attention, and a given part is to adopt risk reduction strategies in the tobacco and nicotine field. The aim must be to make World Cancer Day unnecessary in the future. It may be unrealistic, but we cannot abandon that vision.
Part of the way to get there is to convert smokers to less risky nicotine products. You only have to look to Sweden to find part of the map to the final destination – the Swedish snus effect is also needed in the US.