While the US Congress and State Legislators gleefully consider increasing the punitive tobacco taxes on Americans, here's some news from Germany which should give them pause. It won't, but it should. According to a new German customs report leaked to the press, raising tobacco taxes only encourages smokers to buy illegal cigarettes. While the report focused on cigarettes, its findings should logically apply to smokeless tobacco, snus, cigars, pipe tobacco and the rest. The report found that smokers did not respond to government health and budget policies by quitting smoking, but by "turning even more deliberately to illegal cigarettes." German customs officials found that the increased demand for smuggled tobacco not only meant that illegal cigarettes were easier to get, but that children and young people had easier access to them.
Did anyone bother to tell Matthew Myers or the other anti-all-tobacco extremists supposedly motivated by "saving the children"?
The snus world has been impatiently waiting for the long promised release of the Thunder Chrom (Thunder Chrome in English) editions from V2 Tobacco. Patrick Vogel, co-owner of V2 released a surprise announcement early this morning announcing the five new Thunder Chrom Long+ Limited Edition snus offerings will be available Week 35/36 2011.
Thunder Chrom was originally planned for an April 2011 release. As recently as two weeks ago, that had been pushed back to January 2012. What happened? Why is the Thunder Chrom Edition different from other V2 Limited Edition snus releases? The story behind Thunder Chrom may never be fully known for years, but here is what the SnusCIA has been able to uncover. It's an intriguing story about some exciting new snus.
RJ Reynolds is introducing their latest ads inviting smokers to switch from cigarettes to snus. Reynolds introduced this unprecedented advertising concept from a cigarette manufacturer at the very end of 2010 just in time for New Years Day. Subsequent variations of the Switch to Snus message were released in 2011; the most controversial and in-your-face series targeted New York City's draconian ban on outdoor smoking.
The new August 2011 ads promoting Camel's Pleasure Shift Challenge campaign, much more sedate then those prior in my opinion, has none the less thrown the anti-all-tobacco zealots into a knee-jerk hysterical uproar.
As Copenhagen struggles to recover from massive flooding yesterday, Swedish and Scandinavian snus users around the world (where legal) were stunned to discover the Snus Store at SnusCentral.com was a casualty of the floods. SnusCentral officials confirmed today that while the physical snus store is secure in Sweden, their Internet servers based in Copenhagen were off-line.
Official confirmation that SnusCentral.com was down quickly pushed other flood related news off the front pages in Denmark. TV coverage of the massive damage inflicted upon the the historic fortress Citadel in Copenhagen quickly cut away for the latest on the SnusCentral.com situation.
At a secret Snus Summit in Chicago this past Thursday, Swedish Match previewed the long awaited General Snus marketing thrust into mainstream America to a group of America's snus elite. The "Not All Snus is Created Equal" initiative is much more than an introduction of new Swedish Match General Snus products tailored for marketing in America.
Yes, there are two new snus products (to start): General Classic Blend Snus and General Nordic Mint Snus. Yes, they are made in Sweden to Swedish Match's GothiaTek manufacturing and ingredients standards just as all the Swedish Match brands are.
Yes, for long time Swedish Match snus fans, the names may take a little getting used to. They sound so....American. They are supposed to. This campaign is not aimed at veteran Swedish snusers: it is targeted at a very specific group among those Americans who currently smoke cigarettes, use so-called American snus, or both.
With this latest General Snus initiative beginning today, Swedish Match is taking the fight directly to RJ Reynolds and Altria. They are targeting both the existing and potential Camel Snus and Marlboro Snus customers. The message is simple and clear as Swedish Match's FDA-fearing attorneys could live with. Accept that and you will understand this campaign.
Fear not, I learned a thing or two existing Swedish snus users in America will find as frustrating as I did. Of course quivering Tobacco Act fearing lawyers are at the heart of it. I'll share them with you later in this article so we can all vent together. For now, let's focus on the Not All Snus is Created Equal General Snus campaign.
Effective today, New York City cigarette smokers are banned from smoking at parks and beaches. In a move unthinkable only a year ago, Reynolds American is responding to the NYC outdoor smoking ban by urging smokers to switch to Camel Snus. Really; I'm not making this up. Check today's newspapers, New Yorkers.
Reynolds is running these two ads this week in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other major newspapers in and out of NYC as the city's new ordinance banning outdoor smoking at parks and beaches begins.
Since December 2010, these will be the sixth and seventh ads in which Reynolds is urging smokers to switch to Camel Snus. These are the most aggressive ads yet of the Reynolds 'Break Free' campaign offering cigarette smokers an alternative smokeless product to lighting up. The theme of both ads is "Smokers, Switch to Smoke-Free Camel SNUS and reclaim the world's greatest city".
You may remember New York City Mayor Bloomberg. He's the guy that ordered undercover NYC law enforcement teams to Arizona Gun Shows to troll for illegal firearms transactions....yes, as in Arizona, The State of.
Click Snus by Swedish Match is being discontinued, according to SnusCIA Agents embedded in the SnusCentral Delegation to Stockholm. I wrote about the reintroduction of Click snus back in December 2010 in article ironically called Click Swedish Snus is Back!
The delisting of Click White Portion Snus is particularly disappointing to me as it has become a regular in my current snus rotation. I'm also sorry I used an ! in the title of the original article. Despite the cancellation of Click Snus being leaked early by (I'm told) a drunken British blogger of some repute, I've held off talking about it for selfish reasons. Now that my final order of Click Snus is safely on its way to me, the official veil of snus secrecy is lifted.
On May 2nd 2011, Swedish Match US introduced a new natural flavor moist snuff into select US cities: Ettan Snuff. Ettan Snuff joins Redman, Longhorn and Timberwolf in Swedish Match's American offerings of moist snuff and chewing tobacco. I recently spoke at length with Joe Ackerman; Director of US Smokefree Products - Swedish Match US, about the Ettan Snuff pilot project.
While cigarette use continues to decline in the United States, the smokeless tobacco category has been experiencing average 6% increases over for the five years into 2010. For the last 12 months alone, smokeless tobacco sales have grown over 10%.
This trend has not gone unnoticed in the tobacco industry (or unfortunately by the tax collectors). Of the above, Swedish snus is finally a blip on the radar but the majority of the smokeless tobacco sales in the US are of American dip and chew; moist snuff and chewing tobacco.
If you're wondering why I am writing an article about a new moist snuff offering instead of a new snus offering, I'm doing both...and neither. What the new Ettan Snuff pilot in the US represents to me is a brilliant example of a Swedish snus manufacturer proactively turning the tables on Big American Tobacco.
Two years ago, I came across a company called Viking Snus based in Thailand and founded by Göran Andersson, a Swedish expatriate. It turned out Viking Snus was only available in Thailand and Mr. Andersson's English was little better than my Swedish at the time. After another attempt to figure out why snus was being made in Thailand, I gave up. I only write about things which interest me and a snus I could never taste or figure out was not interesting.
March 23rd 2011, FDA announced to a stunned tobacco and anti-tobacco community that they had decided Star Scientific's new BDL line of nicotine-containing smokeless tobacco lozenges (artificial snus as I call them) were really not considered nicotine-containing smokeless tobacco under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act for short).
The Star BDL dissolvable products contain reduced levels of carcinogens known as tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNA. Star Scientific said it was notified by FDA Tobacco Czar Lawrence Deyton that “cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco” are the only products subject to regulation under the 2009 Tobacco Control Act. Jumping ahead to April 25th, FDA Tobacco Czar Lawrence Deyton announced the decision by FDA not to appeal Judge Richard Leon's ruling in NJOY v FDA to the US Supreme Court. This means that e-cigarettes, e-liquid, nicotine gums, lozenges, patches, skin creams and nasal sprays are now unregulated tobacco products according to federal law (as long as no therapeutic claim is made by the manufacturer/importer). These nicotine products now join cigars and pipe tobacco as unregulated tobacco products under the infamous Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act.
During my "unscheduled interview" with Director Deyton at NATO Show 2011 two weeks ago, I challenged him to explain how it was in the interests of public health for Swedish Snus to be mis-characterized with factually incorrect warning labels as a dangerous high TSNA cancer causing product. His response concerning Expedited Review stunned me. You can read the complete interview in my article on NATO Show 2011 for more details.
Reactions to all the above ranged from outrage and horror from the Anti All Tobacco Extremists to silence from Big Pharmaceutical to optimism from the Pro Reduced Harm Tobacco Product community. Bill Godshall, executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania, welcomed this sea change in the federal legal definition and regulation of tobacco/nicotine products, stating: "Smokers will have greater access to many different less expensive smokefree alternatives, and manufacturers can now truthfully market these new smokefree tobacco products to smokers as far less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes." The change is also likely to decimate drug industry sales of nicotine gums, lozenges and patches. "Not many smokers will pay $.75 for a nicotine lozenge if they can buy a virtually identical tobacco lozenge for $.20," added Godshall.
NATO Show 2011 was a great tobacco trade show and one I will be attending regularly in the future. For me, there was also a decidedly surreal aspect to the whole experience which was again ignited by an email I received just as I was finishing this article. As you will read, the Tobacco War is not only alive, but we seemed to have scored a major, if bizarre victory just hours ago.
I finally met FDA Tobacco Czar Dr. Lawrence Deyton in the flesh; "Bopper" to his friends. We even engaged in a rather spirited discussion concerning Swedish snus which ensured I will probably never be asked to call him Bopper.
I met a number of old friends and ended up at a Alice in Wonderland-type dinner I couldn't have imagined. I made some new friends but most importantly, got a unique view into how FDA tobacco policy is and will affect our front line: tobacco brick and mortar stores and c-stores in the United States. When it comes to eStore consumers of Scandinavian and Swedish snus, the EU partially industry-imposed snus ban is only the tip of the iceberg. Snus eStores customers are facing potentially less store options and higher prices. Some would call it "business". Others would call it screwing the American snus consumer for corporate gain. Then again, considering today's news, who knows what's happening?
I also had to bail SnusCentral.com Snus Store Manager Moe Unz out of jail and attended some very positive private meetings which I won't be writing about under the Rule: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This was a very interesting trip to say the least. That all EU and US snus users live in interesting times (as the Chinese say and not in a good way) continues with a twist. Dr. Deyton of FDA also mentioned another intriguing alternative during our discussion which could also change the entire snus game in a good way.
The last few weeks have been interesting in the world of snus news. We ended March with a de facto EU snus ban. The EU snus ban story continues as some snus eStores and even Swedish snus manufacturers ignore recent events and have resumed selling Swedish snus to EU retail customers. This is putting those snus eStores who have stopped selling within the EU at an obvious competitive disadvantage. Do these snus store risk selling snus to EU retail customers and hope the law will turn a blind eye or will they end up being shut down and jailed if the government decides to act harshly? This situation warrants a new article of its own which will published in the very near future.
In other snus news, Swedish Match announced some mystery new snus releases for the American market. British American Tobacco (BAT) also formally announced the formation of a stand-alone BAT-owned start-up company called Nicoventures Limited whose astonishing goal is to one day market a variety of "regulatory approved" non-tobacco product options for smokers who chose to or can not quit smoking cigarettes.
Finally, the most anticipated tobacco industry trade show of the year, NATO Show 2011 is taking place this week in Las Vegas. The keynote speaker is FDA Tobacco Czar Lawrence Deyton himself. Other noteworthy speakers and seminars will be held and the sold-out exhibit hall will contain the likes of Altria, Swedish Match, RJ Reynolds, and even publicity shy Lorillard Tobacco. I'll be flying out on SnusCENTRAL One along with my personal staff, invited reporters, dignitaries, captains of industry, and a brigade of SnusCIA Security Agents. We decided to keep it low key this year.
I'll try and squeeze in a little time to report from NATO Show 2011 and will bring everyone up to date upon my return. This year's show promises a lot of intrigue and secret discussions but I'll tell you what I can without being killed for it.
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