Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Respected Tobacco Control Expert, MZD Client Appears on “60 Minutes”

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Ever heard the question, “What do you do when “60 Minutes” is at the door?”

For Karla Sneegas, executive director of the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation agency, it was no problem.

Sneegas, a nationally-respected tobacco control expert, appeared on the April 4th edition of “60 Minutes” in a segment about a tobacco product known as snus entitled “Will New Smokeless Tobacco Products Cut or Boost the Smoking Rate?”

Sneegas was interviewed last November in Indianapolis for the segment, in which she gave her opinions on snus with CBS Correspondent Lesley Stahl.

“At this point in time, I cannot say these products are safer,” Sneegas told Stahl. “I think these products are going to end up leading to dual use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products and we have no idea whatsoever what is the outcome, what’s the health impact of someone not quitting and using both products.”

Sneegas added that she was also skeptical of “harm reduction” because tobacco company executives promote it, such as Susan Ivey of R.J. Reynolds, the company that makes Camel Snus.

Sneegas noted that R.J, Reynolds has pilot tested another smokeless product known as dissolvables in Central Indiana and believes it is being targeted for use by teenagers, something that the company denies.

During the “60 Minutes” segment, Stahl asked Sneegas, “You pulled together a group of high school students to discuss orbs. What did they tell you?”

Sneegas replied, “One it looks like candy. And who’s candy made for? Who’s attracted to candy? We are. Kids.”

Stahl reported that the students noted that Camel Orbs look a lot like Tic-Tacs and have the same minty taste. The orbs can also be used to circumvent tobacco free campus policies in schools and workplaces. Sneegas said it is frustrating because smoke free air laws have been successful in getting smokers to try to quit.

“More smokers do quit,” Sneegas said. “They cut back drastically. And you know cutting back is a great first step. Sometimes they go to the point of saying, ‘Well I can’t some at work anymore. It’s time to quit. I want to quit anyway. It’s time to quit.’”

In terms of the experience of appearing on the respected program, Sneegas said she was pleased to have the opportunity to deliver a positive message and educate tobacco users about the potential impact of these new products.

“Entire new lines of tobacco products are saturating the market in every flavor and form imaginable.  Many of these products are novel in their method of delivery – such as the dissolvable tobacco products – and that drastically increases their appeal to teenagers,” said Sneegas.

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