Tobacco has a long and important history in South Carolina, and as we have become aware of the risks associated with tobacco and people have moved away from the product, the result has been some economic upheaval. So it comes as a bit of an affront that a foreign company would try to claim that their tobacco product is somehow safer than American tobacco.
No Tobacco Product Is Safe
The company Swedish Match had proposed to modify the warning label on its tobacco to read, “No tobacco product is safe, but this product presents substantially lower risks to health than cigarettes.” The FDA panel didn’t endorse this label change, though some on the panel do believe that, overall, smokeless tobacco is safer than smoking, even though it’s associated with pancreatic cancer, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
Swedish Match also wanted to remove warnings associated with oral cancer and with gum disease, claiming that their studies showed it wasn’t associated with either condition. The FDA panel was unconvinced, voting unanimously that snus contributed to these risks. Although snus conducted studies showing reduced risks for both, the FDA was critical of these studies. They said that Swedish Match didn’t track cancer cases among former snus users, and that its gum disease studies focused only on adolescents and young adults, whose risk of gum disease is very low. They also said that Swedish Match had no “biologically plausible” reason why their tobacco would be safer.
Swedish Match is not the first tobacco company to try to get warnings lifted from their products. Since 2009, the law has allowed the FDA to evaluate and approve tobacco products that are safer. The FDA has received 17 such applications, but so far it hasn’t approved any.
Consequences of a Family Tradition
Smokeless tobacco is a tradition with deep roots here in South Carolina, and many people use it because their fathers and their grandfathers did. Unfortunately, the consequences of this are often highly visible in the form of receding gums. This can be present even if you gave up chew a long time ago.
Like many family features of your smile, you may not be happy with receding gums from chew. And the good news is that you don’t have to live with receding gums any more than you have to live with crooked teeth.