Joakim made the mistake of saying if I had any more questions, I should feel free to contact him. Of course I replied back with a host of questions....which he graciously took the time to answer.
I mentioned to Joakim again how impressed I was with the CAMEL Snus container JTI had developed for this product.
He responded, "From my personal perspective as an avid snus consumer, I agree with you – I also like the containers a whole lot. And this was an important part of our product development. It is important that the package reflects the work we have put in to make the product inside a truly premium version of snus."
He then continued, "Here are some answers to the questions you sent me." Wow, real answers and very quickly. I began to like Joakim Nilsson and JTI Sweden more and more. Here are some of my questions and Joakim's responses as a Spokesperson for JTI Sweden:
Q: How did the press conference go? Was the press receptive or hostile? Any public reaction yet or is it still too soon to tell?
The press conference went great and CAMEL Snus seemed to be well received by the journalists. However, given the local restrictions on how our products can be marketed in Sweden, JTI wants to be very careful and always comply with regulations concerning how we communicate the launch of a new product. This is why we used a fairly low key format for the press conference, and we did not invite any representatives from daily newspapers or tabloids.
So the public reactions are still to come. But we are confident that as soon as we are able to place CAMEL Snus in stores nationwide it will be well received. We are convinced that most traditional snus consumers will enjoy CAMEL Snus.
Q: What motivated JTI to introduce CAMEL branded Snus in Sweden?
The main reason behind introducing CAMEL Snus on the Swedish market is that JTI would like to show our dedication to becoming an important actor in the Swedish snus market. The CAMEL brand stands for tobacco excellence and integrity since 1913. What better way to show our steadfast belief in our commitment on the Swedish snus market than to use one of our most trusted Global Flagship Brands when we develop a new premium snus blend?
Q: Does JTI plan to market CAMEL Snus in its other non-US markets?
There are no such plans at present. CAMEL Snus is manufactured by JTI Sweden, and JTI Sweden does not have any strategies involving other non-US markets. It needs to be said that the EU snus ban makes it illegal for us to launch our smokeless tobacco products in the EU community.
Q: Is JTI getting more aggressive with its snus vertical?
JTI Sweden definitely is stepping up in a commitment to become the best snus manufacturer in Sweden. We already see that we can be the most innovative actor – we introduced the combi-lid with hinges, we were first with the extra strong snus and the extra large snus portion pouches.
Hmm. That was a revelation for me...not so much on the combi-lid with hinges which I do like very much but the fact that JTI was the first to introduce an Extra Strong Snus and the Maxi-Portion. Those last two were bell-weather events in the Swedish and now Scandinavian Snus Markets.
Q: Is JTI planning any other new snus introductions in 2009?
As for any future strategies our company policy is not to comment on what might be in the pipeline.
I kind of expected that response but, hey, it never hurts to ask!
Q: Are there any plans to make a Strong or Extra Strong version of Swedish CAMEL Snus? I’d recommend doing so, for whatever that is worth.
Personally, I agree with you – I like strong snus products with lots of tobacco taste. But for now, we want to be able to focus on the two versions of CAMEL that we have made – Original portion and White portion. What the future might hold, I do not know.
This next question I just couldn't resist asking. Didn't really expect an answer, but if I got one, it could have been a bombshell!
Q: Was Reynolds notified in advance of your plans to introduce a Swedish CAMEL Snus? If so, what was their reaction? If not, what was their reaction after it was released?
I do not have any information about contacts with international tobacco companies. Questions of this nature relates to our global HQ. [Following sentences Redacted. There are some things only I should know because I am America's Shining Beacon of Snus!]
Q: Will Swedish Match be handling your retail distribution in Sweden? If so, will they be distributing it in Norway also?
Yes, as you wrote in your original article, SwM is distributing our products within Sweden. However SwM does not distribute our products in Norway.
Q: Is the taste of both CAMEL Snus’s reminiscent of the old Gallaher recipes, LD and Gustavus or is this a completely new recipe and a new taste?
Actually, CAMEL Snus is an entirely new recipe which has taken us several years to develop. JTI has gone through several product tests and taste samples in order to find a perfect blend of traditional Swedish snus. This makes our launch of CAMEL Snus our most ambitious snus project ever.
Concerning the two technical questions you posed in your mail (i.e. “How many mg/g of nicotine does CAMEL Snus have?” and “What are the TSNA levels of both the portion and white portion CAMEL Snus?”) I can say that the nicotine level is in line with normal snus, and lower than extra strong snus. The TSNA level is within our strict internal quality limit.
The answer to the nicotine and TSNA questions I admit to being a little disappointed in. Every Swedish/Scandinavian Snus manufacturer I can think of releases their nicotine levels by mg/g. Many also release TSNA specifics, especially if they are very low, so as to support the Reduced Harm Tobacco piece of their product marketing.
I can read between the lines on the nicotine levels of Swedish CAMEL Snus and be comfortable they are somewhere around 8mg/g. As to the TSNA levels, however, I'm clueless. I haven't seen JTI's strict internal quality limits so have no idea where Swedish CAMEL Snus falls.
Even if they are using the GothiaTek scale which is the snus industry standard in Scandinavia, that scale runs from 0 mg/g to 5 mg/g. Both Gotlandssnus and V2 Tobacco boast TSNA levels below 1 mg/g. The last study I saw on General Snus indicated between 2.5 mg/g and 3.0 mg/g. All are well within the strict GothiaTek parameters.
It does puzzle me, not only in the case of JTI, but many of the American Snus Manufacturers I've spoken with why they are so reluctant to reveal these numbers; especially nicotine. When I asked Tom O'Connell of American Smokeless Tobacco; manufacturers of Discreet Snus, both numbers literally rolled off his tongue. He was proud of his company's snus.
Contrast that to my old friend Bill Eder of Nordic American Smokeless. He at first feinted ignorance; then said that in today's climate, they don't like to talk about numbers or ingredients. He also declined to have his picture taken.
I was even told by some Distributors and Private Labelers at Tobacco Pro Expo that Nordic American had represented to them that Nordic Ice was still manufactured by Nordicsnusmanufacturing AB/Taboca/Nordic habanos, producing Nordic Ice Snus for the U.S. market at their Romakloster, Gotland Snus Factory.
The reality is that both Nordic Ice Snus and Klondike are made at the old Swisher Factory in West Virginia, USA. Swisher has been making both Nordic Ice and Klondike from at least September of 2008 and this is common knowledge among those in the industry. Not that any manufacturing location is clearly evident on the can....unless you are a Snus Lord like myself.
There is a practically irremovable label on the bottom of the Nordic Ice cans with the UPC bar code and some other information. One of those pieces of information is the code "TP-WV-42 TAX CLASS M" The WV represents West Virginia and the 42 represents Swisher. Swisher doesn't publicize that and I invoke my rights under the U.S. Constitution as a journalist and leading expert on Snus not to tell anyone how I know their TP number. So don't ask.
Forgive the digression, but as long time readers of my articles know, I am very passionate about consumers being on a level playing field when it comes to what they put into their mouth and bodies. I don't understand why especially JTI Sweden, which is bound by the Swedish Government mandate that snus be regulated as a food product resulting in the highest quality snus made would be reluctant to share nicotine and TSNA information with their consumers.
I think it's because that's how things always were in the tobacco business. Decades of frivolous but costly lawsuits against tobacco companies and governments at every level across the globe looking for any excuse to extract more money from tobacco companies in general created a culture of secrecy.
In the case of snus especially though, 2009 is a new day. The importance of debunking the myths and outright falsehoods concerning snus and establishing once and for all that real snus is a Reduced Harm Product; that the long-term studies prove that Swedish Snus does NOT cause Mouth Cancer; that Swedish Snus is 93% to 98% less harmful than cigarette smoking...all this is key to overturning the ridiculous EU Snus Ban and insuring that FDA does create a Reduced Harm Tobacco category and enforces it.
It's not to encourage non-tobacco users to begin using snus: it's to save cigarette smokers who can't or just don't want to quit. If the majority of the 46MM+ American cigarette users alone switched to Swedish/Swedish-grade snus, the savings to the American Health Care system would make a serious dent in our....unbelievable.. national debt. The same would hold true for the EU.
But since this article is about Swedish CAMEL Snus by JTI, let me end on that subject. As I've already written, CAMEL Original Portion Snus tastes absolutely outstanding. It is clearly a Tier One Premium Snus from the can to most importantly, the contents.
I opened a can of CAMEL White Portion Snus last night. It epitomizes a White Portion: takes longer to start running, great taste though slightly more muted than the Original Portion, and lasts over 2 hours. I don't want to say more about the CAMEL White Portion at this point because I plan to put it to the ultimate test.
After I finish this can, I'm going to open my last can AND a can of one of the best Regular White Portions I've ever tasted: Philip Morris 1847 White. I'm going to taste them head to head and rate them head to head. May the best snus win!
Regardless of how that Snus Shoot Out turns out, JTI clearly has two snus products to be very proud of. As Joakim has stated, JTI Sweden's goal was to create a new snus of premium quality. They have very clearly succeeded and JTI has impressed me greatly as a company.
I want to thank Joakim Nilsson, Communications Manager at JTI Sweden for his time, his generosity, and his sense of urgency. If Joakim is a representative example of the JTI Team Members and Management, then JTI is a great company indeed. (even greater if they produced CAMEL Extra Strong Snus...couldn't resist a last plug. Sorry.).
Yours in Snus,
America's Leading Activist Snus Guru
Reporting From SnusCENTRAL.org