WHAT IS SNUS?
Everything You Need to Know
THE SNUS GUIDE
Less than 50 years ago, loose snus was the only option available. Today, there are several different varieties and forms to suit whatever needs snus users may have. Just as before, the most common term for a pinch of snus is still “portion”, or “prilla” as we say in Swedish.
Basically, snus is either Loose or Portion. Loose snus is most often made of grounded tobacco, which is divided into three varieties: coarse, medium and fine grind. With Loose snus, you form it to a portion in your hand and place it under your upper lip. Loose snus looks the same today as it did 200 years ago and is still the basis of Swedish snus tradition.
STRENGTH & NICOTINE CONTENT
We used to write the nicotine content of the snus as a percentage on the back of our cans. However, a change in the law requires that we and all other snus manufacturers remove this labelling. For those of you that want to know more about how much nicotine our products contain, you’ll find all relevant information here on our website.
Find your product in the brand list at the bottom of this page. When you reach a product-page, click “properties” for more information about the snus. However, it is important that you do not focus solely on the exact nicotine content of the snus. How strong a user perceives a snus to be is about more than just nicotine content.
Perceived strength is what matters
Let’s start by comparing two products. Catch Dry Licorice Mini has a nicotine content of 1.5%. General White Portion, on the other hand, has a nicotine content of 0.8%. Based on this comparison, it is easy to conclude that Catch Dry Licorice is a stronger snus than General White. But it is not that simple – both products are categorized as having a normal strength level.
The nicotine content in the snus is not the same as the perceived strength for the user. Instead, the perceived strength is due to how much nicotine that is released from the snus during usage, which is affected by several factors. It is the perceived strength that determines which strength level we put on the can – not only the nicotine content.
What affects the strength?
Individual factors affect the strength, such as how you use snus and how much saliva you produce. The product-specific factors that we take into account when making an overall evaluation of the snus are the flavor, format, nicotine content, moisture content and the pH of the finished snus. Of the amount of nicotine in the pouch, 10-20% is absorbed when using snus.
Because different recipes use different tobacco blends, the nicotine content in Swedish Match’s products often varies from 0.75% to 2.0%. Normally, nicotine is not added artificially or extracted in production – the nicotine content in the product corresponds to the nicotine content in the tobacco blend used in the recipe.
The moister the snus, the more nicotine the user absorbs. This means that a normal-strength loose snus often has a lower nicotine content that a normal-strength White Portion, since loose snus is considerably moister. This same rule applies for pH levels – the higher the pH, the more nicotine can be absorbed. Maintaining moisture and pH levels are two of many reasons why snus should be sold and stored refrigerated. Another good reason is that snus retains its flavor better if it is stored in the refrigerator.
READ WHAT IS ON THE CAN
Confusing? Yes, it is. Creating a snus with a certain flavor, strength and feel takes experience. Our best tip to you is to not get bogged down in comparisons between different nicotine contents. Instead, read the strength indicated on our website and written on the can. Extra Strong means that the snus is stronger than Strong. If there is no mention of strength on our snus that means it is normal strength.
To conveniently see the nicotine content, pH and moisture level, and the strength of our products, use the brand list at the bottom of the page to find a certain brand or product. All information related to that particular snus is listed under “properties” on the product page.
It all starts with a tobacco seed. This is the beginning of a process that has been perfected over almost two centuries. Swedish Match unites traditional know-how with the latest scientific findings to produce world-leading quality products.
The work starts long before the tobacco seed is put in the ground, by which time many people have been involved in the well-being of the seed, not least our tobacco buyers. In addition to checking the tobacco itself, they inspect the quality of the soil as well as the geographical and topographical conditions. Tobacco and soil samples are sent to Swedish Match’s laboratory in Stockholm for analysis. What is the soil comprised of? What substances are in the tobacco? Everything is meticulously studied.
Before the tobacco is planted in the field, certified tobacco plants must first be cultivated in seedbeds. When the tobacco plant is approximately ten centimeters high, it is planted in the field. After another 10 to 12 weeks, it is time to harvest.
The plant ripens from the bottom up, which means that even the harvesting process is a craft that requires great skill. First, the first pair of leaves are removed, starting from the bottom. Because we want the same level of ripening throughout, the tobacco grower waits a few days before harvesting the next pair of leaves. Then the third pair of leaves are removed, and so on. Another alternative is to harvest the entire plant when all the leaves have ripened. After the harvest follows the curing process, under the sun or in a barn. The moisture content in the leaves drops from approximately 80% to 20% during this process. When this process is completed, the tobacco leaves are shipped for conditioning and grading according to Swedish Match’s quality standards.
OUR QUALITY STANDARD
Our ambition is to manufacture the best Swedish snus around. For many decades, we have made enormous progress through our focused work with research and development. We dare claim that our Swedish snus is in a class of its own. Let us explain.
All standard crops for food consumption contain undesirable substances. You may have heard about or read reports that warn about the high arsenic content in rice, for example. Consuming high doses of these substances can have a negative effect on our health. Some substances are potential carcinogens. This is why national and international food legislation impose strict limits regarding the maximum approved values of these particular substances in food. Since the early 1970s, snus is also regulated by the Swedish food legislation for the exact same reason. The undesirable substances that are in regular food are also in tobacco.
Our standpoint is that the Swedish food legislation is good. We also believe that the World Health Organization (WHO) Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation’s recommendations on the maximum values of toxicants in smokefree tobacco products are good. But we take it even further. Our world-unique GOTHIATEK quality standard has more and tougher limits than any legislation or authority in the field. The reason is simple. Those of us who use snus should feel safe doing so when enjoying a portion manufactured in one of our factories in Gothenburg or Kungälv. We also want to be able to guarantee our customers the highest product quality in every single can by having 100% control of every stage of production. We are the only snus manufacturer to offer such a premium quality standard.
HISTORY OF SNUS
1700 – 1800: We are all tobacco farmers
In 1724, King Fredrik I himself commissioned the Swedish people to grow tobacco. Tobacco was considered a commodity and indispensable for Swedish society. Although Swedes had been growing tobacco since the 17th century, this created an upsurge. The Crown’s ambition was high – we are to be self-sufficient in terms of tobacco within four years.
While Sweden did not fully realize the initial goal, we did make good progress. By the mid-1700s, tobacco was being grown in 72 Swedish and 12 Finnish towns. By the end of the same century, half of all tobacco used in commercial manufacturing came from local suppliers. From the start, growing tobacco was a job for women. This knowledge was passed from mother to daughter and many female seasonal workers came to the tobacco fields every spring. As competition from international tobacco import intensified, the last commercial tobacco growers eventually shut down in 1964. One of the last growers was Mor Alida and plants from her tobacco field can be seen today at Snus- och Tändsticksmuseum (The Snus and Match Museum) at Skansen in Stockholm.