Background: Convincing scientific evidence exists that smoking has devastating effects on health. The use of smokeless tobacco (snuff) as a tobacco habit has been reported to be considerably less harmful, and has been suggested as an aid to smoking cessation, among other things. Methods: Cross-sectional data on general health and tobacco habits were obtained through a self-administered mail questionnaire in 2002 representing 50-year-old (n = 6236) and 60-year-old (n = 6232) Swedes in two counties. Participation rates were 70.2 and 75.7% in the both age cohorts, respectively. Of all participants 46.2% were male and 53.8% female. A general health index encompassing five items (score 0-5) was designed, with the best general health attributed to those scoring 5. Results: Male daily smokers accounted for 15.6% of the 50-year-olds and 18.7% of the 60-years-olds compared with 21.1 and 16.6%, respectively, for females. Corresponding figures for daily snuffing were 21.1 and 11.9% for men and 1.7 and 0.4% for women. When adjusting for age, sex, place of living, social network, education, and marital status, and related to subjects who never used tobacco, 'best general health' score 5, significant differences were found for ex-smokers (OR 0.82; 95% CI 0.74-0.90; P < 0.001) and ex-snuffers (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.61-0.90; P < 0.01). Conclusion: Those who have stopped smoking or snuffing seem to be in a vulnerable condition with respect to general health and in need of extra support and health-promoting activities.
- Medicin och hälsovetenskap (3)