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Sara Bellum

Smokeless tobacco is the latest nicotine-based product to drift into the marketplace and try to catch the attention of young people.

Snus pouches are a new version of snuff, or chewing tobacco laced with nicotine. Instead of putting a loose wad of tobacco inside the upper lip or between the cheek and gums, snus pouches look like small tea bags. These products are “spitless”, making their use easy to hide. Some tobacco companies even add flavors – like vanilla, peppermint, or spearmint – along with a sweetener.

These flavors are more likely to make the product appeal to young people.

Isn’t snus safer than cigarettes?

Snus has a similar effect on your brain, acting as a stimulant. Although it is marketed as an alternative to cigarettes, the little packets of wet tobacco are just as addictive. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies have determined that smokeless tobacco products:

  • Cause serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases of the mouth, gums, and teeth;
  • May increase the risk of serious diseases when used in combination with smoking;
  • Cause adverse reproductive effects and should not be used during pregnancy; and
  • Are not a safe alternative to smoking.

So don’t let a clever name, fun packaging, or candy flavors fool you. By the way, here’s the un-fun part of the package, but that’s because it’s required by law:

"Warning: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes."

Who’s using snus?

According to NIDA’s 2009 Monitoring the Future survey of teens (PDF, 1.34 MB), the use of smokeless tobacco is increasing significantly among 10th and 12th graders. The percentage of 12th graders reporting past-month smokeless tobacco use increased from 6.1 percent in 2006 to 8.4 percent in 2009, a 38 percent increase, while the percentage of 10th graders reporting smokeless tobacco use increased from 4.9 percent in 2004 to 6.5 percent in 2009, a 33 percent increase.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Very informative!

On the one hand, there seems to be no end to what Big Tobacco will do to make money selling deadly products to consumers. On the other hand, there seems to be no end to what people will put in their mouths, lungs, veins, noses, etc., to experience some form of altered state. If there was not a market for tobacco products, they would go out of business. ThanX! Sara, for getting the word out about yet another way to dupe an already gullible public into buying products that, when used as directed, sicken or kill the user.

When i was in highschool i had a friend who was info snuf and dip and right now hes in a pretty bad spot. I wish when we were kids this knowledge was more publicized.

That looks disgusting!


Nice post , I am trying to learn how to make my blog this worthwhile ! [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

This product is a nicateen based product. it use simmilor to snuff and also to chewing tobacco. And maybe even a safter way of useing tobcco and nicaten. But in really life it is just as bad for you as smoking a cigaret or snuff or chewwing tobacco it is just as harmful for you. It can cause cancer just as bad and just as fast as all the rest of the tpbacco/nicateen based products

The information put forward on this is misleading at best, especially for a a site claiming to offer "The Science Behind Drug Abuse." The only disease snus has been linked to increasing is pancreatic cancer, and only a slight increase is seen here. Snus is different to chewing tobacco, but most sources claiming to show correlations between snus and oral cancers, cardiovascular disease and other diseases are actually showing studies done with chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobaccos. If someone directs me to a well constructed and peer reviewed study I would gladly change my mind. Anti drug websites such as this would gain much more credibility if they reported on the scientific facts and did not react to the unknown in a knee jerk fashion.

[links removed, per guidelines]

It is true that compared to cigarettes and chewing tobacco, there isn’t much research on snus. A few studies have shown a link between snus and cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. – but the results are not definitive. However, decades of research have demonstrated the dangers of nicotine—and the fact that snus is sold in flavors that kids like is cause for concern.

Since snus is not intended nor recommended for inhalation, it does not affect the lungs as cigarettes do. Because it is steam-cured, rather than fire-cured like smoking tobacco or other chewing tobacco, it contains lower concentrations of nitrosamines and other carcinogens that form from the partially anaerobic heating of proteins - 2.8 parts per million for Ettan brand compared to as high as 127.9 parts per million in some American brands, according to a study by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Health.

The World Health Organization acknowledges Swedish men have the lowest rate of lung cancer in Europe, partly due to the low tobacco smoking rate, but does not argue for substituting snus for smoking, citing the effects of snus still remain unclear.

Around 2005, several reports, partially funded by the snus industry, pointed to the fact that no carcinogenic effects could be attributed to Nordic snus and this resulted in the removal of the warning label that claimed snus could cause cancer. It was replaced with the more vague label "May affect your health negatively".