Researchers at the University of York are calling for more stringent regulatory measures to reduce the health burden of smokeless tobacco, a product often found in UK stores without the proper health warnings and as a result of illicit trading.
Smokeless tobacco is particularly popular in Asia and Africa and includes chewing tobacco as well as various types of nasal tobacco. They contain high levels of nicotine as well as cancer producing toxic chemicals, making head and neck cancers common in those who consume smokeless tobacco products.
In a study of 25 wards across five boroughs – Birmingham, Bradford, Blackburn, Leicester, and Tower Hamlets – researchers looked at the types of products sold in local shops and assessed their compliance with UK regulations.
They found that small amounts of smokeless tobacco are smuggled into the UK through domestic luggage, and larger amounts came through land and sea routes via Europe, whilst others are produced locally through small scale setups. In 52% of the local shops surveyed, products were sold under different brand names, none of which are legally permitted for sale in the UK.
Faraz Siddiqui, Research Fellow at the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, said: “Many people of South Asian origin use smokeless tobacco products, and it is particularly popular among women. Continued use of these products is known to lead to several oral and general health conditions, including cancers.
“It is imperative that smokeless tobacco products, which are directly implicated in head and neck cancers, are