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Keywords:

  • Former smoking;
  • harm reduction;
  • nicotine;
  • public health;
  • quit rates;
  • smokeless tobacco;
  • smoking cessation;
  • snus

ABSTRACT

Aim  Swedish studies have shown that experience of using snus is associated with an increased probability of being a former smoker. We examined whether this result is also found in Norway.

Design  Seven cross-sectional data sets collected during the period 2003–08.

Setting  Norway.

Participants  A total of 10 441 ever (current or former) smokers

Measurements  Quit ratios for smoking were compared for people with different histories of snus use. Motive for snus use was examined among combination users (snus and cigarettes). Smoking status was examined among snus users.

Findings  Compared to smokers with no experience of using snus, the quit ratio for smoking was significantly higher for daily snus users in six of seven data sets, significantly higher for former snus users in two of five data sets and significantly lower for occasional snus users in six of seven data sets. Of combination users who used snus daily, 55.3% [confidence interval (CI) 44.7–65.9] reported that their motive for using snus was to quit smoking totally. This motive was reported significantly less often by combination users who used snus occasionally (35.7%, CI 27.3–44.2). Former smokers made up the largest proportion of daily snus users in six of seven data sets. In the remaining data set, that included only the age group 16–20 years, people who had never smoked made up the largest segment of snus users.

Conclusions  Consistent with Swedish studies, Norwegian data shows that experience of using snus is associated with an increased probability of being a former smoker. In Scandinavia, snus may play a role in quitting smoking but other explanations, such as greater motivation to stop in snus users, cannot be ruled out.