There is a lot of interest and unfortunately a lot of misinformation about Snus, especially in the United States. So many of you have questions! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Snus.....and the real answers.
You will also find more answers in the SnusCentral.org Snus Forum and throughout the SnusCentral.org website.
Yes, Virginia, there ARE significant differences in the levels of Nicotine in Swedish Snus and American Snus. It has to do with profit and greed on the part of Big American Tobacco, versus giving consumers what they are asking for by Swedish Snus manufacturers. You can read why in a number of my articles, but THIS ONE boils it down if you're interested....and you should be.
SWEDISH SNUS NICOTINE LEVELS:
Swedish/Scandinavian Snus comes in 5 levels of Nicotine:
Ironically, Swedes prefer the Standard 8 mg. nicotine snus. It was the results of studies and consumer focus groups in Norway and the United States which led to the creation of the Strong and Extra Strong Swedish Snus's.
AMERICAN SNUS NICOTINE LEVELS:
Very little is known about the Nicotine Levels of American Snus as the FDA does not require American Snus manufacturers to disclose it. As of April 1st, 2008, here is all we do know and none has been independently confirmed:
What is emerging is a trend and very different marketing philosophy between America and Scandinavia on the purpose of snus.
American snus manufacturers are concentrating on making 1/2 gram products which are sweet, mild in flavor, low in nicotine, and short lasting which forces the consumer to use many more of their portions than they would of Swedish Snus. The American marketing drive currently is that snus is for when you can't smoke; not to replace cigarettes. The sell them as complimentary products since most of American Snus Companies also make cigarettes as well. The ones that don't are just following along.
Scandinavian Snus; rich in taste, high in nicotine, long lasting; is designed to replace the need for cigarettes. With pouches of most Scandinavian snuses now lasting over 2 hours as compared to the 10 to 30 minutes American snus manufacturers claim for their products, you will have to use considerably more American Snus to maintain your comfort level and will less likely to be able to give up cigarettes complete.
THE ARTICLE mentioned above gives you a quick, but thorough understanding of American Tobacco's motives. Also read the FAQ on TASTE. Drug cartels could learn from Big American Tobacco.
American Snus:: This section I'm going start with American Snus. Why? It's quick, simply and will highlight the significant philosophical difference between American snus manufacturers/tobacco companies and Swedish snus manufacturers. American snus only appeared in 2006. American Tobacco Companies have modeled their snus offerings on they way they marketed Cigarettes: Philip Morris USA's first snus offering, Taboka, came in regular and menthol. Taboka was test-marketed in Indianapolis and failed.
Today Marlboro snus is offered in Rich, Mild, Spice and Mint. Camel SNUS is offered in Original, Spice, and Frost...new flavors announced for 2009. Skoal Snus, the latest as of this writing, is mixing it up a little, but with only three offerings: Citrus Blend, Mint, and Cinnamon. Triumph, marketed and flavor-designed by Lorillard but made for them in Sweden offers Original and Mint.
All American Snus's to date come in some kind of dry pouch, period. They only offer one weight in a pouch, period. Since all the American Snus manufacturers are still test marketing and none are available nationally (Klondike says they are national, but most people can't find them. Camel SNUS is scheduled to nationally marketed 1st Quarter, 2009) there are others out there, and they seem to be following the same model.
Swedish Snus: With it's over 200 year history, hundreds of family snus recipes, some long gone, some still here, and new ones being created all the time, both flavor variety and consumer convenience of use has had centuries to mature and variety is a important component of Swedish Snus.
For the sake of convenience, I'm going to use the current inventory of SnusCENTRAL.com, our store for Members and others to Buy Snus as an example. (What? Throwing in a Free Advertisement? Of course not....well maybe.)
When you Buy Snus from SnusCENTRAL.com, you will find over 109 unique flavors and varieties of Swedish Snus; growing all the time, from a host of manufacturers! Not just the 3 or 4 generic categories American Snus Manufacturers seem to think is all Americans need....or deserve.
Swedish Snus comes in not one form like American snus, but three primary forms: Loose, Portion, and White Portion. American Manufacturers (and I'm purposely not talking about the Swedish-Style American Manufacturers: they get their own FAQ) do not offer Loose Snus...just your choice of a few cans with different flavored pouches.
Loose snus is just that: snus in a can. The user, either by hand or with a tool, forms what's commonly called a pinch to the size of their liking and places it between the lip and gum. Many say there is a taste difference between Loose Snus and Snus that comes in pouches, which we're going to referring to as Portions when talking about Swedish Snus.
As to pouches, Swedish Snus is available in two types: the Original Portion pouch which is very similar in construction to a tea bag and the newer White Portion pouch.
QUESTION: Why do American snus manufacturers call the packets they put their snus product in "pouches" and the Swedish call them "portions"?
ANSWER: With American Manufacturers, you only get one choice on the amount of product that is in their pouch. The Swedish give you three portion sizes to choose from based on your personal preference: Mini, Regular, and Maxi. These names refer to the weight in grams of each pouch.
That's important to remember because Camel SNUS, by weight, would be considered a Mini. Yet by the way the constructed the pouch, it actually felt larger than a Swedish Regular Portion, to the point it where it was uncomfortable....at first; then the nicotine and sugar center of my brain over-rode that too.
In fact, with the exception of Triumph which is made for Lorillard in Sweden, all the American Manufactured snus pouches I've seen would be consider Mini Portions at best. Remember that when you read the FAQ on who gives you the most for your money, Swedish Snus or American Snus. Very, very important.
So when it comes to variety, both in flavors, brands, choice of how and how much snus to use, Swedish Snus gives you the widest possible selection for YOUR convenience. They don't try and force you into an A, B, or C choice of flavor and leave it at that.
My favorite analogy to that questions is "What is the difference between a (no offense) cheap White Owl cigar and a fine Cuban cigar?" If all you've ever smoked are White Owl cigars, they may taste OK to you as you've had nothing to compare it against. Once you try a Cuban cigar, you suddenly realize what you have been missing: TASTE. I like McDonald's hamburgers but they can in no way begin to compare to the taste of Fillet Mignon.
I smoked Camel cigarettes for over 30 years and thought they tasted great. But the few times I managed to quit smoking, after a time the odor began to even bother me.
I smoked fine, expensive and (when out of the USA) Cuban cigars during one of these periods. When I went back to cigarettes, I realized just how terrible cigarettes tasted...at least the first one or two. By the end of the week I was back up to a pack and half a day and they tasted fine.
For a taste-test article, I revisited American Snus's for the first time since I discovered Swedish Snus. Without exception, they were all overly sweet, little to no tobacco flavor, and I was doing more of them than I did Swedish Snus to keep my nicotine up. Some were so bad I ended up spitting out the first pouch or two as they made me sick. The frightening thing, though, was that after a while, some became "acceptable".
How could that be? I spit out the first portion in disgust but by the 6th portion, the same snus was now "acceptable"? Not in the league of Swedish Snus, but "acceptable"?
Why was "American Flavor" invented? Who made that decision and WHY would all the other American snus-making cigarette companies follow like lemmings? Why would American Tobacco risk changing the flavor of a product with an over 200 year track record of success?
Philip Morris International makes a snus in Sweden called 1847 which they only market overseas. It's one of my favorites. They KNOW how to make REAL SWEDISH SNUS. So why is Marlboro Snus so different?
In the first and still most popular article on snus I ever wrote, Camel and Marlboro, when it comes to Snus, you LOSE!, I went from cigarettes to Camel SNUS to Swedish Snus in the same day. Many early readers of that article and those that followed were amazed at how much better Swedish Snus tasted than American.
But lately, there's been a shift of tone. People who have used American snus for a year or more now are either having a harder time making the transition to Swedish. It gets back to that sweet taste, weak flavor, sugar....and low nicotine. After some more research, I discovered the following:
There is a separate FAQ on nicotine you can read, but all that's important here is nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet: more addicting than heroin, powder cocaine or crack. By manipulating nicotine levels lower, you can force cigarette smokers to smoke more. By keeping nicotine low in American Snus (Triumph already exposed), it either becomes impossible to switch completely to American Snus or.....quit tobacco altogether!!
But that's only part of it:
American Cigarettes contain between roughly 8% to 18% sugar. Thus each cigarette gives the smoker a "sugar high" as well. This could very well explain why many smokers have a reduced appetite and if try to quit smoking, gain weight. This, combined with nicotine addiction, make it so incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for many people to quit. That's why there are still over 46 million American cigarette smokers in a country where the majority hate cigarettes.
Swedish Snus uses no to little sugar in their products aside from the natural fruit-flavored snus's: no where even close to cigarettes....and it's now apparent why American Snus is so sweet too. Since I'm also diabetic, it explains changes in my blood sugar readings during the periods I stopped smoking as well....and more importantly, when using only American Snus for a week to write a review, my blood glucose levels fluctuated. Some research group should look into that.
So there Really IS a TASTE controversy between Swedish and American Snus. People accustom to the natural flavorings of Swedish Snus find American Snus "Sickly-Sweet", or "Candy-Like". Some Americans who started with and have used an American Snus for any significant amount of time find Swedish Snus "not sweet enough" at first.
HOW MUCH SUGAR is in "American Snus"? We don't know. The FDA does not require that information to be released OR the amount of nicotine. But NOW we know WHY American "snus" is so much sweeter than REAL Swedish snus! To keep users hooked on their product.
But as you'll come to see in other FAQ's and in the articles, reviews and studies contained or accessible through SnusCENTRAL.org, the differences between Quality, Reduced Harm, Nicotine Levels, Ingredients, Selection and ESPECIALLY important in these economic times; Value for your Money: Price versus What and How Much comes in each can; Swedish Snus is the only sensible choice for a snus user. Don't let your nicotine and sugar-addicted brain over-ride your common sense.
Because as you will see, there is a clear HEALTH difference between most American and Swedish Snus's. Learn before you decide. If you choose American snus, at least you'll be an informed consumer. (unlike when it was revealed there was practically no difference in tar between Regular and Light cigarettes) And in America, we still do have personal choice....mostly.
One last word on taste: be it tobacco, vegetables, wine, soft drinks, beer, food, or anything else we consume, taste is in the mouth of the taster. While nicotine complicates that with tobacco products, there are going to be some Swedish Snus's you love, some you think are OK, and some you plain don't like the taste of. Those of you who have only used American snus have your favorites, just like the White Owl cigar smoker may not like Blunts.
That's fine and normal considering the vast selection and offerings of superior quality Swedish Snus (well over a hundred), but just so long as you are comparing different Swedish Snus's, you're brain to nicotine influence is on an equal playing field. Don't compare White Owl cigars to Cuban cigars.
And half the fun of using Swedish Snus is discovering new flavors and brands you do like because, unlike cigarettes, you're in a whole new world of taste: quality taste. Experiment, don't be afraid to switch brands, tastes, or flavors to suit your mood. I personally have at least five different cans/brands of Swedish snus open at the same time depending on my taste desire at the moment. It's wonderful.
So if you've never used American Snus or just started, you'll find the Swedish Snus's absolutely amazing. If you've been using an American Snus for any length of time, you may find some of the Swedish snus's too "strong" (strong meaning that's what snus is supposed to taste like, not watered down like American Snus).
You may want to start with Swedish flavored Mini-Portions; then move up to some of the milder or flavored Normal Portion Swedish Snus's like OffRoad or (just the) General Sterk, Camel Frost fans will be amazed to how General Mini Mint blows Frost out of the water. Swedish Match specifically designed Mini Mint to show the difference between real quality mint snus and Camel Frost.
Talk to other SnusCENTRAL.org Members on the Forum, ask for and read their opinions. Ask questions of the Manufacturers here too.
Read (and write) Member Snus Reviews, there are my reviews, That Snus Guy's reviews and more. Don't be afraid to try new brands and flavors! Never forget, taste IS in the mouth of the taster. If you like it, than it's a good snus for you. If other people don't like it, who cares?
Everyone has different tastes and yours are the only ones that matter to YOU. The selection (as well as price and service) of Swedish Snus at the SnusCENTRAL.com Snus Store makes it an easy great place to buy snus too! When we say Anything and Everything Snus, membership does have it privileges at SnusCENTRAL.org! Welcome to the wonderful world of Swedish Snus!
Essentially, SEVEN Criteria separate Swedish Snus from the existing American Snus:
While taste is subjective, We will still address it. But the Bottom Line: Swedish Snus wins hands-down in all Seven Areas.
Not my opinion. Not my marketing spin. FACT, Documented FACT. Or in some cases, a deliberate LACK of Facts provided by certain manufacturers or worse, the intentional misleading right up to the point of, but the lawyers make sure they don't cross it, false claims, false association, and very, very, clever marketing.
There are many articles and studies going into detail on the above on SnusCENTRAL.org. Each of these will also be briefly addressed as separate questions under the list of Snus FAQ's section you're currently in.
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