Tobacco Policy · webinar

Snus Follow-up: What you can do to Prevent Tobacco Ads in LGBT Media!

Staff in Puerto Rico: Gustavo, Emilia & Scout
Network Staff

Network staff

Reporting on the Network Snus countermarketing response

Last January Steering Committee member Joseph Lee of UNC posted to the Networks discussion Listserv about a recent article placed in the Winston-Salem Journal titled: Reynolds targets quitters.

This article outlines the R.J. Reynolds (RJR) national marketing campaign of Camel SNUS as a potential New Year’s Resolution solution for smokers.  The article author interviewed David Howard, a Reynolds spokesman who said “It is the company’s first campaign aimed specifically at encouraging smokers to switch to Camel SNUS.”  Howard later says “A lot of adults make a decision to quit smoking this time of year, for those making that attempt, but wanting [sic] the pleasure of tobacco we’re saying ‘here’s and [sic] option.’”

Joseph’s post sparked a very lively discussion on the listserv and we found that many LGBT publications across the country started running the RJ Reynolds Camel SNUS ads. When you look at the ads you will notice Camel launched the Pleasure to Switch Challenge.

Due to the high volume of discussion, the Network convened a call to discuss this issue and plan next steps for communities to take action.

Here are some suggestions the group developed for your work:

1) Submit op-ed pieces, or letters to the editors sharing your options of the recent influx of tobacco advertising in your local publications.

2) Launch a campaign urging your local publications to not accept Tobacco Industry Advertising/funds.

  • Click here for a comprehensive resolution from which built off of the great work that came out of California.
  • Currently, Bob Gordon, Project Director for the California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership currently has a list and we know of five active LGBT publications that have a policy to refuse tobacco ads: Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco Bay Times, Curve Magazine, Outword (Sacramento), and
  • We know there are more, and Bob has offered to keep a list of publications on their site, Email him if you currently know of any publications that refuse tobacco ads, and when you get publications to sign on email us and we will be sure to publicize it widely. This project has and continues to do some amazing work.

3) Raise awareness of the tobacco industry efforts and launch counter marketing campaigns.

Jamie Delavan has actively worked on this issue and is starting to see some

Project Filter's Countermarketing Poster

great success. Jamie’s shop created and placed counter ads in the Boise Weekly, the local publication that had published the SNUS ad, which met very positive response from the agency. Click here to view their Ads.

4) Share your activities with us and with others, or ask for advise!

  • These are just a few examples of what groups have done and are doing to combat this issue. You can follow suit and we are here to help. Let’s mobilize our communities, and take a stand against tobacco industry marketing. If you launch a letter writing campaign, or work with your local papers to sign resolutions not to accept tobacco industry advertising or fund let us know so we can support you in your efforts and link you with others doing the same thing.
  • Also, don’t forget if you see ads, receive promo material, or see anything distributed by the tobacco industry make sure to document these examples by contacting
  • Finally, we’re hosting a Network call on Wednesday, April 13th at 3pm EST for folks to share and ask for advice on their local strategies. Please register by clicking this link and entering your info so we can contact you with details and join us then!

EDIT: You may find a new Network video useful. It’s a video, with stats of how the tobacco industry has targetted the LGBT community over the years. This may be something tangible, and interesting, to share with your LGBT colleagues and media groups in an interactive, compelling way:

Special thanks to:

Naphtali Offen, Joseph Lee, JamieLou Delavan, Bob Gordon, Bill Snook, Francisco Michel, Robin Hobart, Johnn Young, Trudie Jackson, Sasha Kaufmann, Dean Andersen, Olivia Kaski

Scholarship Opportunity

SRNT Update 3: Means to and ENDS

An interesting discussion emerged from Dr. Nathan Cobb’s presentation on E-cigarettes.  First and foremost, he asked, they not be called E-cigarettes, because it implies it is from tobacco, which E-cigs don’t contain tobacco.  Rather, they are Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, or ENDS for short.  In my own home state some people are looking towards ENDS as a cessation mechanism, and to that I would say “not so fast” after seeing Dr. Cobb’s presentation.

While ENDS would potentially be a safe way to deliver nicotine (although Nicotine itself is still not considered a safe substance), trace amounts of Tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines were found in some of the products tested by the FDA along with acetaldehyde, acetone, and formaldehyde.  What’s more scary is that different chemicals were found not just with differing brands but also even within the same brand.  There were also inconsistencies in the amount of nicotine in each puff, even within the same brand, and varied within the same cartridge from puff to puff.  Last, the level of nicotine in the blood was very low and didn’t do much to reduce urges in smokers.

That means that ENDS would not be a good cessation device even just for its nicotine delivery properties.  But that’s not the only danger.  Think about this: you’re helping your friend quit, and everything is going perfectly, then she says “Oh, I don’t have to worry about quitting anymore ‘cause there’s these electric cigarettes that are safe”.  Her motivation just went out the window, and you may have to work double time to get her into the preparation or action stage of quitting.  Because ENDS are bad for notice delivery chances smokers will relapse because they’re not getting the needed nicotine in their blood system.  So not only does it have the potential to screw with someone’s self-efficacy to quit but also may be setting them up for failure because of the low nicotine levels it delivers.

But consider this: snus on the other hand does deliver an adequate amount of nicotine but in some cases is less than half as dangerous than smoking, that’s according to the presentation by Dr. Lois Biener.  Here’s the danger, as she presented: tobacco companies are not marketing snus as a harm reduction approach, rather as an addition to smoking.  A Marlboro snus add Dr. Biener showed us clearly showed Marlboro trying to brand snus as another way smokers can get a nicotine fix, perhaps in the face of new bans around the country?  Can’t smoke in the job?  Just pick up a pack of snus and feel good until the next time you smoke.  It could also be a way to undermine a smoker’s quit attempt.  Most smokers WILL quit cold turkey, even though it may not be the least painful way.  Is this a way for Marlboro to get in the middle of someone who wants to quit smoking by creating a middle step between an ex-smoker and a current one?  With Marlboro deciding your quit plan I would venture to say you’re probably not going to quit for good.

But seriously, what if snus was remarketed and was aimed a people who wanted to quit smoking as a nicotine delivery aid?  While snus is definitely NOT safe, the difference in deadly risks between smoking and snus is large.  Will the tobacco field ever go into the realm of other public health disciplines that utilize harm reduction techniques?  What do you think?