Marlboro Snus Isn’t Really Snus

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In some prior posts I’ve talked about the type of smokeless snuff tobacco that is very popular in Sweden, called “snus”. This product has captured considerable attention because in that country more men now use it than smoke cigarettes, and because it is lower in toxins and carcinogens than other forms of smokeless tobacco (such that it doesn’t cause oral or lung cancer, but probably does cause pancreatic cancer, though less than smoking). It has also captured the attention of multinational tobacco companies, and is currently being test marketed in many countries, including the US.

Swedish snus is a moist snuff product (50% water) that delivers a comparable amount of nicotine to a cigarette. However, it appears that most of the versions being test-marketed in the US have very low nicotine delivery. Marlboro snus, in particular, appears to be a quite different product from Swedish snus. It is relatively dry (12% water), has a low pH, and therefore delivers an amount of nicotine to the blood that is less than 20% of that delivered by leading brands of Swedish snus (e.g. General) or US smokeless (e.g. Copenhagen) or cigarettes. On analyzing some of the data on Marlboro snus, and trying to understand why Philip Morris have produced a product with such low nicotine delivery, Dr Helena Furberg (from University of North Carolina) and I suspect that the product may be designed to fail. If you have tried any of the new smokeless tobacco products being test-marketed in the US or other countries (e.g Taboka, Camel snus, Marlboro snus, Ariva, Exalt, Skoal Dry, Revel, etc) I’d be interested to hear what you thought of them and their marketing.

If you are thinking of switching from smoking to a safer form of nicotine delivery, then far better to miss out the tobacco products altogether and move onto a product with reasonable nicotine delivery but no carcinogens, like 4mg nicotine gum. Some of the NRT products are now being sold in much better flavors than the original. They are not intended for long-term use, but if you feel you want to keep taking nicotine in a form that won’t kill you, this is a better choice than some unregulated tobacco product with unknown ingredients and nicotine delivery.

If you’d like to read the full article on Marlboro snus, with links to other data, it can be accessed at:
http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/5/1/9
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About the Author


MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.

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