What is Snus? This is essentially a moist, powdered tobacco variant that doesn’t involve smoking. It resembles a fine powder, sometimes conveniently packed in tiny sachets similar to teabags. This tobacco derivative contains ingredients like ground tobacco and salt, and can be flavored with edible smoke aromas ranging from citrus to floral notes. A majority of Scandinavian snus originates from Sweden, where it falls under the regulations of the Swedish Food Act. Each brand varies in nicotine content.
How Safe is Snus?
Remarkably, snus is believed to be 95% to 99% less hazardous than traditional smoking. Respiratory threats, which encompass diseases like lung cancer, COPD, and pneumonia, don’t arise with snus usage. Studies consolidated from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland up until 2010 barely found any strong association of snus with major diseases. Even pancreatic cancer doesn’t seem to have a notable link with snus, as affirmed by a recent Swedish Karolinska Institutet study.
Differentiating Snus from Other Oral Tobaccos
Snus, being a smokeless tobacco, has its unique characteristics. Swedish snus, distinctively, isn’t fermented but is pasteurized. This process curtails bacterial growth that would otherwise lead to the formation of nitrosamines, a primary carcinogen in many tobacco products. To further prevent toxin growth, snus is typically stored in refrigerated conditions.
How Do People Use Snus?
The snus experience involves placing it between the upper lip and gum. Saliva then activates the nicotine release, with the rate contingent on the saliva amount. For beginners, it’s a phase of experimenting to determine the desired nicotine release rate.
Snus and Its Quality Standards
The voluntary quality standard for snus products, known as the Gothiatek standard, sets a cap on levels of various constituents present in snus, from nitrosamines to metals and mycotoxins.
Snus vs. Smoking: The Impacts on Sweden and Norway
Interestingly, snus has been making waves in Sweden and Norway, resulting in a significant decrease in smoking. For instance, in 1996, snus sales surpassed cigarette sales in Sweden. Even in Norway, by 2006, snus usage exceeded cigarette smoking. These shifts transpired even amidst the absence of aggressive product promotion and with health warnings against snus.
Is Snus the Hero Behind Sweden’s Low Smoking Rates?
With only 5% of Swedish adults being daily smokers in 2017, Sweden boasts the lowest smoking rates in the EU. This notable achievement in public health is unparalleled among affluent nations.
Can Snus Help Reduce Smoking?
Many believe snus can play a pivotal role in curbing smoking. In both Sweden and Norway, the consistent choice of snus over cigarettes by the younger population and smokers transitioning to snus has contributed to a massive decline in smoking. Thus, in a way, snus acts as a protective shield against smoking.
The Controversial Legal Status of Snus
Despite its perceived benefits, snus remains prohibited for sale in most parts of the EU, with Sweden being the exception. This ban dates back to the UK’s 1989 Oral Snuff (Safety) Regulations, which was primarily a response to the introduction of moist snuff marketed as ‘Skoal Bandits’. This prohibition was later integrated into the EU directives, maintaining the ban.
The Royal College of Physicians’ Stand on Snus
According to the Royal College of Physicians’ Tobacco Advisory Group, the snus phenomenon in Sweden proves that when given a healthier and socially acceptable tobacco alternative, a significant chunk of smokers will make the switch. The group also credits snus for the dramatic drop in smoking prevalence in Sweden and Norway.
To conclude, while snus presents a fascinating case for tobacco harm reduction, it’s vital for consumers to stay informed and make choices that align with their health and well-being.