Nicotine pouches

Chewing tobacco, Snus & Nicotine pouches: The differences

Chewing tobacco, Snus & Nicotine pouches: The differences

In the article, we’ll take a look at smokeless nicotine products, such as nicotine pouches, snus, chewing tobacco and differences between them.

Disclaimer: All information provided in this text is for educational purposes only. The purpose of the article is in no way to entice and encourage anyone to abuse any addictive substances. The text is not intended for persons under the age of 18. Nicotine pouches contain nicotine which is highly addictive.

So, what is snus?

The popularity of snus is not a new phenomenon. It enjoyed great popularity in the last century. However, its roots stretch back even further in history, likely all the way to the Native Americans.

Today, however, it has taken on a somewhat more refined version. It essentially consists of small pouches filled with tobacco. This is why people often confuse them with nicotine pouches.

Important: In the EU, the sale of snus is largely illegal, with the exception of Sweden. This ban was implemented under the EU Tobacco Products Directive, which prohibits the sale of oral tobacco products, except for those that are chewed. Sweden, having a long tradition of snus usage, received an exemption when it joined the EU.

Nicotine pouches are a relatively new product and are not made from tobacco. They typically contain nicotine extracted from tobacco, along with other ingredients. Since they do not contain tobacco leaf, they are not subject to the same regulations as snus. As of now, nicotine pouches are legal in many EU countries, but they are subject to regulation and age restrictions.

What is the difference between snus and chewing tobacco?

Form and Composition:

  • Snus: This is a Swedish-origin smokeless tobacco product. It comes either in loose form or more commonly in small pouches (similar to tea bags). Snus is made from finely ground tobacco mixed with water, salt, and flavorings, and is often pasteurized, which reduces certain harmful chemicals.
  • Chewing Tobacco: It is typically available in several forms, such as loose leaf, plug (compressed block), or twist (braided and twisted). Chewing tobacco is not ground as finely as snus and often has a higher moisture content. It’s commonly flavored and sweetened.
Tobacco leaf: illustration image

Tobacco leaf: illustration image

Method of Consumption:

  • Snus: It is placed under the upper lip, usually not requiring any chewing. The nicotine and flavors are absorbed through the gums. Users do not need to spit, as the saliva generated can be safely swallowed.
  • Chewing Tobacco: As the name implies, it requires chewing. Users place a wad of tobacco between their cheek and gum and chew intermittently. This releases nicotine and flavors but also generates saliva that users typically spit out.

Cultural Context:

  • Snus has a strong cultural association with Sweden and the Scandinavian region, where it has a long history.
  • Chewing Tobacco is more commonly associated with American culture, particularly in rural areas and historical contexts.
Tobacco leaves

Tobacco leaves

Snus vs. Nicotine Pouches

Smoke-free, odor-free, no burning, charging, or heating required. On the contrary, they are simple, invisible, practical, and even more effective. This is how the trend of nicotine pouches can be characterized.

So, what is the difference between snus and nicotine pouches? Yes, it’s true that they often look completely identical. Small pillows filled with a substance that helps to relax, fine-tuned with various flavors…

Velo Nicotine Pouches (Source: Unsplash)

Velo Nicotine Pouches (Source: Unsplash)

The biggest difference lies in the substance they contain. Chewing tobacco and snus, as the name suggests, contain tobacco from which nicotine is released upon absorption. On the other hand, nicotine pouches contain synthetic nicotine or nicotine extracted from the tobacco plant and are completely tobacco-free. The key distinction is that Nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco leaf or plant matter, as snus does.

The use of snus and nicotine pouches is very similar. The pouch is placed in the mouth, between the lower or upper lip and the gum, on the tongue, or under the tongue. Once in the mouth, it starts to work.

It’s most common to place snus and nicotine pouches between the gum and the upper lip. This is where they are designed to be used, allowing for optimal nicotine absorption and comfort.

Through the saliva, nicotine and the contained flavor are gradually released. The nicotine then passes through the mucous membrane to the receptors in the brain, which begin to release dopamine. So, the substance that is also released when smoking a traditional cigarette. The onset of effect is very fast and often stronger than with a regular cigarette.

Read more: What are nicotine pouches and how to use them?

Chewing Tobacco vs. Nicotine Pouches

Similar to snus, chewing tobacco contains tobacco, while nicotine pouches are tobacco-free. Another difference lies in their use. Chewing tobacco generates a large amount of saliva that needs to be spat out, whereas nicotine pouches don’t produce as much saliva.

Nicotine sachets: Illustrative image

Nicotine sachets: Illustrative image

Chewing tobacco, snus, and nicotine pouches have in common that they represent a sort of universal and very practical form of smoking. Since they don’t release smoke or any aroma, you can use them anywhere and anytime. However, with chewing tobacco, you need some container for spitting, which can be somewhat limiting in this case.

Chewing Tobacco: Illustration

Chewing Tobacco: Illustration

And what about the health risks of chewing tobacco?

Tobacco, in general, is a harmful and addictive substance that causes strong dependency. This is something that anyone deciding to smoke in any form is presumably aware of. It’s true that with chewing tobacco, you don’t have to worry about affecting the lungs or the entire respiratory system. However, even this smoking alternative has its negatives.

Chewing tobacco and snus, being tobacco products, do carry risks like oral cancers and gum disease. Nicotine pouches, while tobacco-free, still pose risks due to nicotine, which is addictive and can have other health impacts.

Many people swallow the saliva produced while chewing tobacco, which can damage the digestive system. This is due not only to the tobacco itself but also to the additives found in these small packets. The same goes for the oral cavity, which also suffers under the influence of tobacco and chemical additives.

Last few words

As we have explored in this article, the world of smokeless tobacco and nicotine products is diverse, with each product presenting its own unique set of characteristics and implications. From the traditional chewing tobacco and snus, deeply rooted in cultural practices, to the modern and convenient nicotine pouches, consumers are offered a range of choices, each with its own benefits, risks and legal regulations.

While products like snus and chewing tobacco contain tobacco and are associated with risks such as oral cancers and gum disease, nicotine pouches offer a tobacco-free alternative. However, it’s crucial to remember that nicotine pouches, despite being tobacco-free, are not risk-free. Nicotine, their primary active ingredient, is addictive and has its own health implications.

For those considering these products, whether for pleasure or as an alternative to smoking, it’s important to make informed choices. Understanding the differences in composition, usage, and health risks, regulations, is key to making decisions that align with personal health considerations and lifestyle preferences.

In conclusion, while smokeless tobacco and nicotine products might be seen as alternatives to traditional smoking, they are not without their own health risks. As with any product containing nicotine, moderation and awareness are essential. Consumers should stay informed about the latest research and regulations and consider their own health and well-being when choosing to use these products.

Further resources

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