Swedish snus: Tradition and modern use

Swedish snus is an integral part of Scandinavian culture, having a rich history and still a significant place in contemporary society. This moist, brown tobacco product is unique to Sweden. In recent years, there has however been a shift towards a more discreet variety of snus, namely tobacco-free nicotine pouches.

What is Swedish brown snus?

Unlike other tobacco products, brown snus undergoes a unique steam-pasteurisation process which sets it apart by reducing certain harmful compounds. The key ingredients include high-quality tobacco, water, salt, and a blend of spices, giving it a distinctive flavour profile. This meticulous production process ensures a smooth, balanced taste that has captivated users for generations.

Historical background

The use of Swedish snus began in the early 18th century, when it was introduced as a moist, ground tobacco product, at the time predominantly enjoyed by the Swedish aristocracy. As the 19th century rolled in, snus production became industrialised, making it more accessible to the general public.

Its role in Swedish society has since expanded greatly, and by the mid-20th century, the use of snus had become quite common, especially among the male population. It was seen as manly, and it was embarrassing to puke as a result of accidentally swallowing juices.

Modern usage and trends

In today’s Sweden, the brown snus still has a robust presence, blending tradition with contemporary trends. Users now have an array of choices, from traditional loose snus to the more convenient portion-packed varieties.

There has been a significant development, however, in the emergence of tobacco-free nicotine pouches. They deliver nicotine without tobacco, and are particularly popular among users that seek a cleaner experience.

The difference between “snus” and “nicotine pouches”

“Snus” and “nicotine pouches” are often used interchangeably in the UK to refer to tobacco-free white pouches, but they are distinct products. Traditional snus contains tobacco, whereas white snus and nicotine pouches do not.

Flavour profiles of nicotine pouches have expanded significantly, including options like berry, mint, citrus, and much more. The discreet nature and this variety of flavour options have contributed to the growing popularity of nicotine pouches, making them a staple in modern Swedish society. However, the popularity of snus also extends beyond Sweden’s borders, with an increasing number of international users.

Understanding the strength of nicotine pouches

Different brands categorise the strength of nicotine pouches using various measuring systems. One basic system is to do it based on nicotine content per pouch:

  • Normal: 1.5 – 6 mg per pouch
  • Strong: 6.1 – 9 mg per pouch
  • Extra Strong: 9.1 – 20 mg per pouch

Some brands even offer nicotine pouches with more than 20 mg of nicotine per pouch, but most users will find that too strong.

Legal status and regulations

The legal status of snus varies significantly across the globe. Within the European Union, brown snus is banned in all member states except Sweden, which secured an exemption when it joined the EU. This exception shows how deep the cultural roots of brown snus are in Sweden.

In the UK, despite Brexit, brown snus is currently not legally available. However, the newer innovation, tobacco-free nicotine pouches, have found legal acceptance in many regions, including the UK.


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