The difference between Swedish snus and snus sold in the United States

snusOne type of smokeless tobacco is Snus, (rhythms with noose) which was developed in Sweden. It is a moist, ground tobacco that is used either as loose tobacco or contained in sachets that look like little tea-bags. Snus is placed behind the upper lip and is held for 30 minutes before being discarded. It is advertised as spit free but that may be do to the location in the upper lip where there is less saliva.

In Sweden, after air and sun curing, the tobacco is heat treated with steam, a pasteurization process, for 24-36 hours, which claims to kill bacteria. The product is refrigerated during storage and kept in refrigerators by retailers. Snus is regulated by the Swedish Food Act and is subject to strict standards of established quality indicators, known as the Gothiatek system. This processing system has shown to lower the levels of a carcinogen known as tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNA). While Swedish Snus is not considered harmless, it is considered to be less harmful than the smoking of cigarettes due to the lower levels of TSNA, and the absence of smoke. Swedish snus has high pH levels, which increases the absorption of nicotine. A Swedish Snus user will receive similar levels of nicotine compared to smoking a cigarette.

• Snus causes oral lesions and dental caries
• Increase in prevalence of circulatory and respiratory symptoms, increase in hypertension
• Slight increase of risk from cardiovascular disease than non tobacco users from long term use
• Pregnant snus users were twice as likely as non-tobacco users to deliver prematurely and have slightly lower birth weight. Not for safe use during pregnancy
• Snus users are twice as likely to get pancreatic cancer as non-tobacco users
• Snus is dependence forming because of the level of nicotine received by the user

Snus is not regulated by any uniform manufacturing code in the United States and the manufacturing and processing of Snus varies greatly from Sweden. Tobacco manufacturers have told the CDC that “moist snuff portion packs and Snus portion packs are essentially identical smokeless tobacco products”. Moist snuff products in the United States, tend to use fire cured tobacco, and uses a fermenting process, which affects the levels of TSNA. (Some Swedish cigarette brands have only 2% of the TSNA levels compared to products sold in the U.S.) In the United States, Snus is required to carry the same warning labels as smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco products in the United States are a known cause of cancer and pose serious health risks.

The truth is that with no regulation, the tobacco companies can make any claim they want about Snus or any other smokeless product. A bill is making it’s way through Congress to give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco.

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