Dentists have spoken out against the promotion of new smokeless tobacco products, known as snus.
US tobacco companies are currently test marketing the products, which are popular in Sweden and involve placing a pouch of tobacco between the upper lip and the gum.
Although they are not damaging to the health of people around the smoker, as cigarettes or cigars are, dentist Dr Jed Jacobson and Dr Joan McGowan, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, say snus could discourage users from quitting and tempt non-smokers to start.
In addition, they argue that the health risks of the product are not yet fully known. Sweden is the only country in Europe where it is legal.
"Whatever form it's in, tobacco is dangerous and smokeless tobacco is a direct assault on oral tissue, increasing the user's risk for disease," Dr McGowan said.
"The increased use of smokeless tobacco products should be seen as a major public health problem," she added.
Smokers are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer, as well as gum disease and unsightly, stained teeth.
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