What is Snus and how does it work?

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Snus is a Swedish smokeless tobacco product that is growing in popularity in the USA, the world needs to be ready for this next Swedish export. Snus pronounced like loose is a smokeless tobacco product like dip or chew. It has become popular in the United States even though it has only been available in shops for a couple of years, however it has been popular in Sweden since the middle of the 19th century and is more popular with men than cigarettes.

Smokeless tobacco can be found in two main forms, chew and snuff, chew is long leaves of cut tobacco that when chewed release nicotine and snuff which comes in a dry form for snorting or can be consumed orally and was popular amongst aristocracy in 18th and 19th century Europe. Snus is taken orally by packing tobacco into his or her upper lip, this produces the same type nicotine buzz of a cigarette, however unlike chewing tobacco you swallow the by-product rather than spitting it out.

In the last few years American tobacco companies have promoted smokeless tobacco products like snus, many of the biggest tobacco companies have spent billions of dollars acquiring popular smokeless brands. Research from Sweden has shown that users are at far less risk of cancer than smokers and people who use dip and chew, some experts have even argued that snus can help people quit smoking. Interestingly the sale of snus has been banned throughout the European union, with the exception of Sweden, and yet cigarette sales have remained legal.

Tobacco first arrived on the shores of Sweden in the mid-1600s and it was not long after that snus was invented as a way to bring snuff to the masses. Sweden found itself with less buying power in the tobacco markets, this led to high prices for the imported tobacco. Sweden was also one of the first countries to tax tobacco, this led to the creation of snus, which is a mix cheaper tobacco mixed with salt and water and it was introduced as a form of snuff.

To make snus, the tobacco leaves are first cut into small strips, air- and sun-dried, and then ground into a powder. The ground tobacco is then treated with heat for 24 to 36 hours, reaching temperatures of around 212 degrees Fahrenheit. A "wet" snuff, snus tobacco contains 50 per cent water and 30 per cent tobacco. Usually sold in tea bag-shaped portions that the user bundles under his or her upper lip, the ground snus tobacco is put through a process called pasteurization. This is what distinguishes snus from other types of tobacco, because its pasteurized, snus tobacco has less ammonia than traditional tobacco, meaning that snus users have to be more patient to get their fix of nicotine a typical a heavy user uses the product for 13-15 hours per day.

According to research, a snus user is 90 per cent less likely to get cancer than a smoker because there is no combustion process that releases carcinogenic chemicals that lead to lung cancer, of course, there are risks with any tobacco product. In Sweden where one in five men and one in twenty-five women use snus tobacco experts are studying the role, smokeless tobacco products can play in getting people to quit cigarettes. However, despite the findings, snus is banned in the EU, the observation is that it's better to get people off tobacco products using proven pharmaceutical methods rather than replacing one tobacco product with another.