"We have a solid observational basis for the claim that the availability of snus appears to be more positive than negative for the population's health," the study's main author Karl Erik Lund, told The Local. "If the aim is to reduce tobacco-related mortality, letting snus compete with cigarettes is a good idea."
Lund's article, published in July in the journal Alcohol and Drug policy, summed up the results of the research programme Sirus has been running on snus tobacco since 2006.
According to Lund's research, snus's market share in Norway has increased from five percent in 1985 to 30 percent today, without an overall increase in the consumption of tobacco.
"The use of snus has not increased overall tobacco consumption but has reduced cigarette smoking in Norway, and this has happened without more people becoming new users," he said.
That was not to say that snus tobacco had no negative impact on health.
"It’s very important to stress that snus is not a totally risk-free product. There’s no reason why youth should take up snus if they’re not trying to get out of the very dangerous cigarette smoking habit," he said.
But comparing the "way lower" rate of tobacco-related mortality in Sweden, where half of tobacco consumption is in the form of snus, to neighbouring Denmark, where snus cannot be sold legally, starkly demonstrated the benefits.
He denied that his research was in any way influenced the the tobacco industry.
"There’s a lot of hostility against any type of tobacco products, but we have to relate to our results. We’re not taking any money form the tobacco industry or the pharmaceuticals industry. We’re 100 percent funded by the Norwegian government."
"The aim should be to combat mortality, and there both snus and electronic cigarettes can play an important role," he said.