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Most Popular Snuff Brands Also Have Big Nicotine Doses

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000291806.78386.e1
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The most popular brands of smokeless tobacco also contain the highest amounts of nicotine that can be readily absorbed by the body, according to a new CDC study reported in the December issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The moist snuff brands that have the highest market share, like Skoal, Copenhagen, and Kodiak, contained high amounts of unprotonated or “free-base” nicotine.

The most popular brand of loose-leaf smokeless tobacco, Levi Garrett, also had the highest levels of free-base nicotine, but the relationship between market share and nicotine content in loose-leaf tobacco was not as consistent as with moist snuff.

Smokeless tobacco products with a high percentage of free-base nicotine can be rapidly absorbed in the mouth, and speed is a “major determinant of addiction,” lead researcher Patricia Richter, PhD, said in a news release. Some researchers suggest the amount of free-base nicotine in snuff and loose-leaf tobacco can be controlled by manipulating the product's pH levels, she explained.

Tobacco companies are required to report the amount of nicotine in their smokeless tobacco products to the CDC, but by law this information is kept confidential as proprietary information.

Separate from these reports, Dr. Richter and her colleague Francis Spierto, PhD, analyzed 18 brands of smokeless tobacco to determine their free-base nicotine content.

They sent 18 different brands of moist snuff and loose-leaf smokeless tobacco from five different companies for testing to a private and independent lab in Canada. Together the brands represent nearly 91% of the market share for moist snuff and 76% for loose-leaf chewing tobacco.

“Consumers need to know that smokeless tobacco products, including loose-leaf and moist snuff, are not safe alternatives to smoking,” Dr. Richter said.

“The amount of nicotine absorbed per dose from using smokeless tobacco is greater than the amount of nicotine absorbed from smoking one cigarette.”

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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