Monday, 01 October 2012 01:00

The Swedish Match Snus Summit - My Reflections

Written by Mick Hellwig
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The second 2012 Snus Summit, this one held in Washington DC, was a rousing success according to all those involved. Old friends were entertained and entertaining, new friends were added to the group.

News was shared, ideas bandied about, war stories shared, a couple new stories written in the Big Black Book, to only be read when the guilty are deceased.

My favorite part of these meetings is the friendships and interactions of the attendees. Within most large groups there are cliques.

The cool kids refuse to hang with the nerds. Or the hot girls won’t acknowledge the long hairs. Or the Droid Dudes throw things at the Apple Fan-boys and Windows Phone fanciers.

Our group has all these personalities but we don’t let our differences get in the way of the tobacco or anything else. In a lot of ways these meetings are more like family reunions than business meetings.

Washington D.C. for me was an inspired place to hold the Snus Summit. I wasn’t too keen on going to D.C. I really dislike politicians and there seems to be something in D.C. that attracts them. Strikes one and two against Washington.

After the meetings at the Swedish Embassy concluded and before dinner was served, it was decided to take a road trip by the Executive Board of The Snuff Takers Ephemeris.

I won’t go into detail here, but we visited one of the local Anti-All-Tobacco lobbyists’ offices and ended up standing in front of The White House.

Snusing in front of the White HouseNo member of the Board could resist having pictures taken holding various types of safe tobacco and nicotine alternatives for cigarette smokers at these locales; all in good fun of course.

Since a vast majority of the men who have called the White House home for a time including the current occupant have used tobacco, it is only fitting that we used some there too.

The thing that struck me while staring at that magnificent building so rich in history was the effect inside me.  I thought seeing the White House would just be a lark, a meaningless exercise in time wasting. But it was not to be.

I was struck by a sense of pride and quite honestly overwhelmed by the thoughts of events that have been decided or supervised from that building. Literally the entire world has been changed by those, past and present, inside that rather plain white structure.

I was awestruck for a minute or ten, but that was not the largest source of emotion on this whirlwind Snus Summit.

At the airport coming home, a gentleman got on the public address system and mentioned that there was an “Honor Flight” of World War II veterans landing in a few minutes.

The veterans were coming from Ohio to visit the WWII memorial in D.C. The gentleman on the PA said if anyone wanted to give the Vets a warm welcome to come to gate #35 in a few minutes.

300 travellers took the time to great these WWII VeteransI have a great deal of respect for those who have served our country; especially the WW2 veterans. These gentlemen are all 80+ years old now and 25 or so got off that plane.

They also got a heck of a welcome from an impromptu crowd of about 300 who put down their phones and computers and travel plans for a few minutes to clap and cheer these veterans.

Recently I have not been a big fan of humanity as a whole. A few individuals I like but mostly I could happily be a hermit. Not today.

Today I was proudly standing by spiritual brothers and sisters in showing what makes this country what it is. Some of those in the crowd had tears in their eyes; some of the vets did too. Even I found the air was bit dusty and had to blink a few times to clear my vision.

The point of all this rambling to say every now and then the unexpected happens and it will change your outlook on things, just a bit sometimes, sometimes a whole lot.

I know now why this diverse group of bloggers, businessmen and nuts get along so well. We revel in our differences and hold tight to what we have in common.

We all share a love of tobacco and a desire to introduce as many nicotine-dependant cigarette smokers as possible to the many safer, cleaner, nicotine-rich, and more enjoyable forms of tobacco that we have discovered and real science has vetted.

We will ignore, for the most part, what annoys us about each other. Or more accurately laugh at what annoys us. This is what makes these meetings work and what bonds us Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf together.

Some Snus News from the Washington Snus Summit

I should fill you in on some actual news from Snus Summit DC, I suppose. The other guys will write all the gritty details from the meeting. I’ll hit the highlights for me.

Kardus Cincho 2012 in dark walnut boxYes, in the post-Conny Andersson Swedish Match, the annual release of the very special limited edition Kardus loose snus continues in 2012 with Kardus Cincho.

In the past, Kardus was made from a blend of exotic tobaccos. This year, only a single strain of tobacco will be lovingly harvested for Kardus Cincho; the tobacco equivalent of single malt scotch, so to speak.  Instead of scotch, Kardus Cincho is flavored with a Cuco Oloroso sherry from Jerez, Spain.

A small farm in Spain that even Google maps can’t find is the source for this year’s tobacco leaf.

Mixed by one of Swedish Match’s tobacco wizards with a Spanish oak aged sherry, the result was described as black and oily looking. The grind is much improved from last year so should be easier to hand bake.

The wooden outer box will be made of dark Walnut. This is a big improvement for me over the canary/circus yellow box containing last year’s Kardus.

Obviously we did not get to see or test any yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do. I understand the price may be a bit higher this year, but for such a limited edition, hand processed snus I believe it’s worth the cost. I’m saving up pennies in anticipation already.

We discussed marketing stategies and efforts for General Snus within the United States and Swedish Match Snus universally.  Marcus Carlsson and Niklas Trieb from SMAB also unveiled the first of the new design General Snus cans. Snus Summit attendees were universally impressed; even me.

Swedish Match North America is much more active politically behind the scenes than I gave them credit for.

They are staying close to the FDA fiasco (my word, NOT theirs) and doing all they can to get the truth heard at the Federal level.

The big fight they are in right now is at the state level, trying to head off tax increases on smokeless tobacco and fighting to get harm reduction language in as many places as possible.

We did ask that the good gentlemen that are heading this fight to communicate more with us.

Hopefully we can organize a system to let you know when a vote is coming up in your state so you can call your local representatives and let them know how you feel.

Grassroots action works for every other cause under the sun; why not reduced harm tobacco products? I was happy to learn SM is fighting as much as they legally can.

This stands in stark contrast to some tobacco companies I won’t name. They are sitting on their hands hoping their share of the death stick market doesn’t decrease too far.

Another first; Swedish Match Sweden is opening an interactive Snus Concept store in Stockholm. The idea as understood by me is that it will be a snus store, factory tour, coffee shop, and meeting place.

Snus will be delivered fresh every morning, leaving the factory 3 hours before being put in the cooler for sale. I’m sure the truck will be refrigerated also.

The Store will have displays of how the tobacco is processed, flavored and packed as snus. It sounds like it will be great hands on experience for the curious.

For my American readers think the Apple Store and Starbucks opening a snus showcase store. Or maybe just call it tobacco heaven.

Needless to say several of us, maybe even all of us, immediately volunteered to emigrate to Sweden and work at the store.

I didn’t understand the muttering that followed in Swedish, but I’m pretty sure it would translate as NO!

Still sounds like a really cool place to visit and a really good idea for helping regular snus consumers learn more about their tobacco of choice and the choices of fine Swedish Match snus available.

All in all it was a great Snus Summit. I would like to offer a public Thank You to Swedish Match for again hosting the meeting and doing the work of getting us together in one place, and honestly, for putting up with this crazy group.

Reporting from Washington DC,

MICK HELLWIG

Snuff Takers Ephemeris Magazine
WHAT I THINK at SnusCENTRAL.org

Read 2169 times Last modified on Saturday, 09 November 2013 03:08

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