The health risks of smoking

Helping consumers make informed choices

For a business like ours, it is imperative that we provide clear and meaningful information about the different risk profiles of our products to help consumers make informed choices.

Regular cigarettes

As well as being the most common way of consuming tobacco, cigarettes are also the most harmful. Burning any plant material like tobacco turns thousands of plant-based compounds into thousands of new compounds, some of which are toxic. Inhaling the smoke that contains these toxicants causes the overwhelming majority of smoking-related diseases.

Along with the pleasures of smoking, there are real risks of serious diseases such as lung cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease, and for many people, smoking is difficult to quit

What people should consider about the risks:

  • Smoking is a cause of various serious and fatal diseases.
  • The health risks in groups vary by the amount smoked, being highest in those that smoke for more years and smoke more cigarettes per day.
  • The risks reduce in groups of people who quit smoking and the reductions increase from quitting earlier.
  • Experts advise no smoking during pregnancy.
  • The only way to be certain of avoiding the risks of smoking is to not smoke.

Tobacco heating products

Tobacco heating products contain blended or processed tobacco, just like regular cigarettes, but instead of being burned the tobacco is heated to vaporise the nicotine and some tobacco flavouring compounds into an aerosol that can be inhaled. This creates fewer smoke toxicants than conventional cigarettes and therefore has the potential to be less risky.

We plan to begin consumer trials of a tobacco heating product by the end of 2015 and have our first product in a test market in 2016.

Low toxicant smokeless tobacco

Snus is a type of low-toxicant oral tobacco that we currently sell in Sweden and Norway. It is proven by independent health studies to be substantially less risky than smoking.

Studies of snus use in Sweden suggest that it does not lead to an increasing risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, two diseases strongly associated with cigarette smoking. This is not surprising, given that consuming snus does not involve inhaling smoke.

While research on various other forms of smokeless tobacco has found associations with oral cancer, research to date on Swedish-style snus suggests no increase in risk overall.

Nicotine products

E-cigarettes and other nicotine inhalation products deliver nicotine to the user in the form of vapour. So, when manufactured to robust quality and safety standards, they are considered to be substantially less risky than regular cigarettes.

There are some public health organisations that have voiced concerns that not enough is known about the health risks of e-cigarettes and we agree that more research is needed into the long-term effects of their use. This is why we are already conducting our own research, submitting the results for peer-review and openly sharing our findings with scientists, regulators and other relevant bodies.