Back in March or April, I was visiting my local 7-Eleven for a Diet Coke Double Big Gulp and while paying, casually asked the clerk how much the Marlboro Snus was these days. I already had a few witty retorts ready. After I finally pointed out to him the Marlboro Snus, he scanned it and said "$0.89; $0.99 with tax." Time stopped. The store was suddenly completely quiet. I had stopped breathing.
Gasping for air, I managed to choke out, "Are you sure we're talking about MARLBORO Snus??" He scanned it again and nodded yes. REALLY? Wow, that's interesting. At my request, he handed me a blister pack of Marlboro Snus Rich. Still only 6 mini-pouches. But 24 portions would only cost $4.00 with tax. Horribly overpriced compared to Swedish Match's regular portion General Snus products available at my tobacco store, but not outrageous. I decided (probably still oxygen deprived) to buy some and try it. I did have enough of my wits about me not to buy the Spearmint...I still had nightmares from my last Camel SNUS Frost experience.
From Bad to Worse....
That was back then. Last week the same 6 mini-pouch blister pack was $2.39 before tax! Texas has also switched from ad valorum taxing to evil weight based smokeless tobacco taxing. I was pretty casual about my thoughts and first taste remarks in the past. This pricing outrage demanded a REAL taste test! It also helped I now knew Marlboro Snus wouldn't kill me, although I only did one or two portions of it previously. The determining factor was a coupon for a free Marlboro Snus blister pack I had tucked away in my wallet for emergencies. I claimed my free Marlboro Snus Rich and marched out of the store.
After my customary day without Swedish Snus before tasting an American Snus, my nicotine-deprived fingers opened the Marlboro Snus blister pack. The first thing to hit me was the smell. How did they get so much smell into such a small packet? From 2 feet away I could still smell it. My wife stopped in about an hour later and the first thing she said was "What is that smell?" At least with Camel SNUS, you had to break a portion open for that "sprayed in the face" constant odor.
In fairness, the odor was not unpleasant (at first). Think of a very sweet pipe tobacco dipped in molasses. Sprinkled with sugar. Plus a touch of cherry cough syrup. What made the odor unpleasant eventually is that hung in the air. By the 3rd portion of Marlboro Rich, the taste and the smell combined were making me a little woozy. The lack of nicotine probably contributed to that. THAT, I was definitely feeling.
I tore open a pouch to weigh and examine the contents. Unpouched weight was 0.44 grams, a little more than the 0.4 grams Philip Morris states. Don't know if they were being generous or just have poor quality control measures. On my patent-pending White Paper Test, the contents of the pouch were the color of a medium roast coffee. Unlike Camel SNUS, it did look like tobacco; not pulverized dirt. There were a good number of visible stems and other fibrous things but none of them poked out of the pouch into my gums during the taste test.
Philip Morris USA does publish the ingredients found in Marlboro Snus. The unidentified fibers I noticed were Sugar Beet fibers! If you haven't read my article on Big Tobacco using nicotine manipulation and sugar to keep smokers hooked, you should after you're done reading this.
On top of sugar beets and however much sugar is used in their "proprietary flavors", they also add Sucralose! After the 4th portion, I was starting to sweat a little. I'm diabetic and that is usually a sign of elevated blood sugar for me. The lack of nicotine probably isn't helping either. All that sweetness is starting to make me a little nauseous too.
While the Marlboro snus did look like tobacco, it also looked like VERY dry tobacco. A visit to the PMUSA website revealed the moisture level of Marlboro Rich to be 17.6%. LESS than 18%??!!! The moisture levels in Nordic and Swedish REAL snus are generally between 45% and 55% and for good reasons. The key reason here is nicotine and free nicotine. Free nicotine is the nicotine available to the body. Total nicotine is just that.
Nicotine? What nicotine?
For nicotine addicts like myself and smokers everywhere, the FREE NICOTINE is the nicotine which matters. The higher the moisture of a snus, the higher the pH level. The higher the pH level, the more Free Nicotine. Marlboro Snus Rich only has 3.55 mg per Gram of un-ionized or Free Nicotine. This means even assuming 0.44 mg of snus per pouch, there is only 1.56 mg of nicotine per pouch! The oral nicotine equivalent to just one cigarette is 8 mg of nicotine per pouch!
What do all those numbers and jargon mean in the real world? It means I spit out my 5th pouch of Marlboro Rich about 25 minutes ago, rinsed my mouth, and replaced it with a portionof General Ekstra Sterk high nicotine Swedish Snus.....and NOW the nicotine withdrawal is starting to pass!
The value of REAL Snus is that it can be a complete replacement for cigarettes and is 98% safer for a smoker than cigarettes at the same time. Practically all American Snus is very low in moisture and Free Nicotine.....intentionally. Big Tobacco doesn't want smokers replacing their cigarettes with snus: the want their brand-loyal nicotine addicted consumers to buy BOTH.
Shame on you, Big American Tobacco companies! REAL snus with nicotine has a manufacturing cost less than cigarettes. Are you so greedy that you make and market a "snus" product so lacking that most cigarette smokers will never be able to quit? What about your responsibility to society? Don't you care about the 46MM American smokers who will die before their time and further tax this country's health-care system?
A knee-jerk reaction would be to add the "don't you care about the children" mantra, but since it is illegal in the United States for any minor to buy, use or consume any tobacco product, I won't hang that around your neck. If parents and the police just made sure the law was followed, we would have no youth smoking problem.
But How Does Marlboro Rich Snus Taste?
Finally, lets talk about the taste and mouth-feel. There is no burning with Marlboro snus which is pleasant but also indicates little to no pH enhancers. The pouch is comfortable, the stems and beet root fibers didn't stick me in the gums unlike Camel SNUS. Unlike many mini-portions, the taste became apparent within seconds of putting the pouch in my mouth and came on strong. Each pouch also lasted about 45 minutes. Those are the positives.
The taste itself is a different story. Sugar and sweetness hit you first with a maple, slightly cherry flavor. It reminds me of a molasses-flavored cotton candy. Whether natural, artificial or both, it is just sickly sweet. The aftertaste is not cherry, but cherry cough syrup. After the second portion, I was starting to become a little nauseous and the odor coming out of the blister pack didn't help either.
From a flavor perspective, this is more a candy than a snus. Not a very pleasant candy either. It's really no wonder there is such low public acceptance of Marlboro Snus and American Snus in general. Big Tobacco is using American Chewing Tobacco/Moist Snuff users as their taste model. They should be using cigarette smokers. Regular cigarettes by far outsell menthol cigarettes. Smokers don't want candy: they want tobacco. Most menthol flavored snuses; both American and Swedish, failed miserably. I'm not ruling out mint...General Mini Mint delivers in taste, mouth feel and nicotine what Camel Frost should be delivering. Which is why among the uninformed (and intentionally misinformed), Camel Frost is more popular than Camel Mellow.
What Philip Morris and apparently Big Tobacco in general doesn't realize is that while an American Smokeless Tobacco user may try American snus or even use it when they can't spit, American cigarette users who don't use American Smokeless products never will...they don't like spitting, they don't like the image, they don't like the taste, and they probably never will.
American cigarette smokers on the other hand, and I speak from 35 years of experience, are sick and tired of being made social pariahs. They are sick of having their chosen legal product of choice be constantly undermined by local, State, and Federal restrictions on where you can smoke and where you can't smoke. They need their nicotine, they want a good tasting product, and they need a product to so discreet that it could be used anywhere...in an airplane, at work, in a hospital, at bars, clubs and restaurants. REAL Snus is a perfect alternative. It delivers all that plus is about as harmful or carcinogenic as coffee, grilled hot dogs, or red wine.
They also don't enjoy being punitively taxed by greedy governments at all levels trying to prop up their unnecessary, wasteful, pork-barrel programs designed to win votes. I mentioned earlier that Texas had gone from an ad valorum tobacco tax to a weight-based one. This means REAL regular snus; which comes 24 one gram pouches to a can would be taxed much higher than Marlboro Snus's roughly 2.5 grams of snus per blister pack. Free premium market positioning courtesy of primarily the State governments without costing PMUSA a penny in cost or profit..
The Real Health Hazard: The State and Federal Government Sell-out to Special Interests
Philip Morris USA and the so-called Committee for Tobacco Free Kids wrote major portions of the now Kennedy/Waxman Law. It will increase cigarette smoking, decrease reduced harm alternatives, and by FDA 'approving' ingredients in cigarettes, is a de facto Government Seal of Approval on cigarettes. PMUSA, RJRT , the US Congress, and President Obama had a chance to do something wonderful for the health of American smokers and non-smokers alike as there is no Second Hand Snus.
Instead, they checked their morals and public responsibility at the door in favor of obscene profits, pandering to special interests with feel good legislation which few even admitted to reading before voting on it.....or signing it into law. Career politicians and amoral cigarette manufacturers make Wall Street and Bank corruption pale in comparison. And now they're going to "fix" the US Health Care system?
I hope they can because the 46MM nicotine addicts being forced to sell their jewelry for cigarettes are going to need all the health care they can get.
Yours in Snus,
FORMER Smoker; CURRENT Swedish Snus User
Reporting From SnusCENTRAL.org