Swedish Snus and American Snuff – Close Cousins Worlds Apart
The words snus and snuff both refer to tobacco products. One word is Swedish, one is English; the similarity between the words leads us to believe that one is the translation of the other. Not so. We all know snuff, we have seen aristocrats sniffing and sneezing in many a film. Snus is a Swedish tobacco product derived from snuff that differs in many ways.
Snuff is pulverised tobacco that, sniffed through the nose, delivers a dose of nicotine. It was first introduced at the French court in 1561 by Jean Nicot who described it as “a panacea”. He proposed its use to the queen, Catherine de’ Medici, to relieve her migraines. She became a regular user and thus snuff became fashionable at court. It was considered particularly suitable for ladies, more decorous than other forms of tobacco.
This royal approval meant that snuff spread quickly throughout Europe and, in 1611, was introduced in America by John Rolfe. Initially American aristocrats used it. Classed as a luxury item, in 1794 it encountered taxation! The general population continued to smoke (or chew) tobacco, and the elite snuff slowly lost favour.
Back in Europe, by the 17th century, snuff had reached Sweden. Here, during the course of the century, Swedish snuff producers worked on an alternative tobacco product. From the dry pulverised snuff to be sniffed, they developed a wet or moist version which was placed in the mouth, in the lower lip.
This new product was called snus. It is similar to American dipping tobacco which is humid and is also placed in the lower lip. Dipping tobacco is moist tobacco which generates saliva and thus some spitting is required. Snus, on the other hand, is more finely ground and requires no spitting. Despite the differences, snus often gets translated as snuff, and snuff sometimes translates as snus in Sweden, although the correct Swedish word would be “luktsnus”.
Snuff is dry sniffing tobacco, as a category. Notwithstanding this distinction, in America also moist dipping tobacco gets called “snuff” (but known as “American dipping tobacco” outside USA). Snus, snuff and dipping tobacco are distinct products, but often lumped under the general heading of “snuff”. Yes, somewhat confusing!
Viable alternative tobacco product
Snus is now firmly established as a viable alternative tobacco product known globally as Scandinavian or Swedish snus. It is gaining in popularity and gets exported world wide. Scandinavian snus is categorised as food and is registered under the Swedish Food Act.
The latest development in the snus world is American snus. American snuff has been around a while. It is associated with period films, western saloons and grandfathers, whereas snus is an exciting new product. In production in America since the end of the last century, American snus follows the Swedish formula quite closely. However, it is dryer and lighter, in the sense that it delivers less nicotine. It is sweeter, the American version usually contains sugar, and it comes in flavours: fruit, vanilla, spearmint, etc.
Replacement for cigarettes
For die-hard smokers finding it hard to kick the nicotine habit and worried about their health, snus is an excellent substitute for cigarettes. It does not contain the tar and chemicals of traditional cigarettes, and no smoke goes to irritate the lungs. The nicotine is still there but in a much safer format. As smokers seek an alternative to cigarettes, the consumption of snus is on the increase, although it may be hard to find outside Sweden. An easy solution is, of course, to purchase online; one of the most well-stocked suppliers is Snus Direct where it is possible to find snus to suit all tastes.