SNIPH has been waging a vendetta against snus for many years. As you may be aware (if you recall Skoal Bandits), a massively ill-informed burst of prohibitionist fervour in the early 1990s resulted in snus being made illegal in the EU. The reasoning was that it caused oral cancer and was a gateway to smoking. Sweden wisely negotiated an opt-out when it joined the EU in 1995 and since then a mountain of evidence has amassed to show that snus categorically does not cause oral cancer and that is a very effective gateway away from smoking.
The SNIPH would have us believe that the Swedes' incredibly low rate of smoking (just 12%) and correspondingly low rate of lung cancer are in no way way related to the enormous quantities of (basically harmless) snus they consume instead. Nor are they prepared to consider the possibility that if the EU removes its completely arbitrary ban on the world's least hazardous tobacco product, the Swedish experience could be replicated elsewhere.
For motives that are—I'm sure—as pure as the Scandinavian driven snow, various people in and around the EU don't seem all that keen on legalising a product which is about as safe as Nicorette and considerably more effective as a smoking cessation aid. I really can't think why the tobacco control movement would be against such a product.
Having grudgingly accepted that snus doesn't cause mouth cancer (which is intuitively the most likely outcome from a tobacco product used in the mouth), the SNIPH has been on a ten-year fishing expedition to find a 'link' with various other cancers and heart disease.
Last week came a shock new claim. At their conference in Stockholm, the SNIPH announced the results of a new study which showed that snus affects fertility and causes impotency. DN, one of Sweden's biggest newspapers, announced that "nicotine in snus affects potency and also inhibits women's ability to become pregnant." (Article here; translation here.)
This claim came directly from the SNIPH's tobacco control project manager, Asa Lundquist, and generated considerable discussion in Sweden, where over 20% of men are regular snus users. Swedes are used to hearing scare stories about snus (invariably from the SNIPH) and this was no exception. But what makes this scare particularly risible is the fact that the "finding" is a figment of Lundquist's imagination. Although she went on the record to talk about the study, and even approved the DN's article before publication, no such study has ever been conducted and the DN has since printed a correction:
SNIPH backs off on snus and potencyIn Wednesday's DN we referred to a new study from the Public Health Institute showing that snus causes erectiledysfunction. No such study exists.
"I nearly fell off my chair when I saw this article," said Stefan Arver, associate professor of endocrinology at the Karolinska Institute. "There is no such study. We have a hypothesis and plan to conduct a study among snus users after the new year."
It's bad enough that researchers announce what they expect to find from a commissioned study (eg. Jill Pell, Manuela Martins-Green). But pretending to have completed the study and making up the result has to be a new low. So please, in the interests of whatever tiny degree of scientific integrity that remains, at least have the decency to begin the research before you start lying to us.