Dr. Brad Rodu, the head of the Tobacco Harm Reduction effort at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Centre, says in an interview with WKU Public Radio’s Kevin Willis, that it’s time for the public health community to rethink how it looks at the smoking debate in the country. He said that total nicotine and tobacco abstinence is unattainable and unnecessary from many smokers.
Speaking in favor of smokeless tobacco products like e-cigarettes, Dr. Rodu says, “Tobacco harm reduction basically involves the substitution, by inveterate smokers, vastly safer smoke-free alternatives”. With the United States advocating an ‘all or nothing approach’, he speaks of a middle way which constitutes convincing smokers to get what they seek from cigarettes without getting all of the harmful elements that are contained in the smoke. Smokers, right now, are using the most dangerous form of nicotine by burning tobacco and inhaling smoke. When tobacco is burned and smoke is inhaled, thousands of other agents are inhaled as well, which in the long run produce lung and other cancers, and other complications.
Taking evidence from European countries he cites the example of Sweden where men consume tobacco and nicotine at about the same level as other developed countries throughout the world. But they do this in the form of ‘Snus’, a Swedish smokeless tobacco product. This practice, he says, has been going on for a couple of centuries. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that Swedish men have lung cancer rates at a fraction of other developing countries. He attributes this to the high consumption of ‘Snus’ as opposed to cigarettes.
Dr. Rodu goes on to say that switching from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco lowers risks for all diseases. Setting his goal to educate smokers in a responsible manner, he says, “Americans are aware of the high risks of smoking but they are completely uneducated about the vastly lower-risk-profile of smoke-free products”.
Below is the full, un-edited interview between Dr. Rodu and WKU Public Radio’s Kevin Williams.