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From Cigarettes to Smokeless: Profiles of Switchers

Modified Tobacco Use As a Risk-Reduction Strategy. Published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (Volume 27, pages 173-175, June 1995) by Ken Tilashalski, Karen Lozano and Brad Rodu.

Although most smokers express an interest in quitting, nicotine addiction is a powerful obstacle to the 46 million Americans who continue to smoke. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that as many as two million cigarette smokers have modified their tobacco use to smokeless tobacco, which they perceive as resulting in fewer and less serious health consequences. We profiled a group of 22 former smokers who made this transition on their own. Most were men aged 27 to 77 years old. Previous smoking experience ranged from 3 to 156 pack-years (mean, 40.6 pack-years); the mean period of smokeless tobacco use was 9.2 years. The decision was prompted in 15 individuals by specific smoking related health problems. For example, 13 smokers started experiencing breathing problems such as early signs of emphysema and shortness of breath.

Thirteen smokers switched to smokeless directly. Nine smokers first tried quitting cold turkey, but they continued to experience craving for periods of weeks to years, and they eventually turned to smokeless. Most interestingly, unit consumption of tobacco dropped in these switchers. They averaged 10 to 14 packs of cigarettes a week; after the switch they used five to seven packages of smokeless tobacco. This means savings not only on medical care costs, but on weekly tobacco purchases too.

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