Slate a good story on smoking (and tobacco) that is sure to send the tobacco Nazis crazy.
While LA County is implementing a ban on smoking even in your own apartment and smoking consumption is falling about 3% per year, smokeless tobacco products are making their way in the market.
So tobacco is doomed, right?
Wrong. Smoking may be doomed, but tobacco is evolving into more elusive prey. Or, perhaps I should say, a more elusive predator. As Kevin Helliker reports in the Wall Street Journal, the industry is going smokeless.
Altria Group Inc., the nation’s largest cigarette maker, this month completed its $10.3 billion purchase of UST Inc., the biggest smokeless-tobacco maker and owner of the Copenhagen and Skoal brands. Reynolds American Inc., which owns Conwood Co., a discount smokeless purveyor, this month announced that the Camel Snus brand has performed well enough in test markets to warrant national distribution.
[M]ore Americans are continuing to give up smoking, helping to push cigarette consumption down about 3% each year. … Morgan Stanley estimates that U.S. consumers spent $4.77 billion on smokeless tobacco in 2007 versus $78 billion on cigarettes. Smokeless-tobacco sales have been increasing about 5% or more a year. … “There are probably in excess of 400,000 adults switching to smokeless each year,” says Seth Moskowitz, a spokesman for Reynolds American.
And it’s becoming less carcinogenic:
One recent study showed that some newer brands, with names like Ariva, Camel Snus and Marlboro Snus, have sharply lower levels of a dangerous carcinogen than do older varieties of smokeless tobacco, such as Copenhagen and Skoal. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, which sets health standards in the United Kingdom, has said smokeless tobacco is between one-tenth and one-one thousandth as hazardous as smoking, depending on the specific product.
The December study also found that Marlboro Snus contained a very low level of nicotine. By contrast, Camel Snus offers a jolt of nicotine that “has the potential to satisfy those smokers who are looking for a substitute to smoking, and to keep them addicted to this product,” the authors said.
Tobacco is evolving and escaping for two fundamental reasons. One is that it can be engineered into new forms. The other is that the problem targeted by legislation—the weed’s tendency to cause cancer—isn’t essential to the tobacco business.
So the upshot is that a good drug like nicotine will still be with us for a long time and the only change is how some people who like to use it will be finding products to consume that are less harmful.
This should of course bitterly disappoint people like Harry Clark.