The price of Swedish snus at the major eStores has always varied to one degree or another but never to the extent seen today. Factors such as the PACT Act, The Tobacco Control Act, and wild swings in currency values are the major contributors. When The Northerner opened a US warehouse and purchased the GetSnus.com domain from Swedish Match whose lawyers felt the liability outweighed the advantages, Sweden-based Northerner suddenly had a physical presence within the United States, for better and especially for worse.
I was invited to meet with Frank Svandal; owner of Northerner.com, in Gothenburg last June. SnusCentral.com was looking at the viability of opening a US warehouse at the time. Among a range of topics, he gave his thoughts on moving Northerner from being retail driven to distributor driven. He envisioned the revenue shift from direct retail snus sales to selling to American eStores and brick and mortar stores as a distributor. I admit to being intruiged but the timing kept nagging at me.
After taking with Northerner and others, our due diligence led us to one inescapable conclusion. While opening a US facility would, at that time, be a profitable move, it simply wasn't worth the risk with the PACT and Kennedy/Waxman legislation gaining steam in the US Congress.
Planes, trains and rental cars, oh my. I have been a smoker for a good 25 years at least. In recent years, I've discovered Swedish snus. Snus helps me though those times when the Anti-Tobacco Nazi’s have forbidden my adult, personal decision to use legal tobacco products but at their own peril. Snus keeps me from ripping their heads off for preaching at me about my use of tobacco; especially cigarettes.
I remember it vividly... I was about 14 years old, it was 2 AM, and I just couldn't sleep. I walked to my 2nd-story bedroom window and quietly opened it. Hanging out the window as far as I could, I stared out into a cold and snow covered New Jersey winter night, smoking a Camel Wide and wishing that I could sleep. I finally flicked the cigarette butt out into the darkness and climbed back into bed.
It began innocently enough. Our Snus Shop at SnusCENTRAL.com was running very low on Lucky Strike Snus. No big deal, the shipment must be delayed.
A report came over the wire that BuySnus.com was out of Lucky Strike too.
Finally, an anonymous source forwarded me this ominous email which Northerner.com sent out to their customers who had ordered Lucky Strike:
American Snus:: This section I'm going start with American Snus. Why? It's quick, simply and will highlight the significant philosophical difference between American snus manufacturers/tobacco companies and Swedish snus manufacturers. American snus only appeared in 2006. American Tobacco Companies have modeled their snus offerings on they way they marketed Cigarettes: Philip Morris USA's first snus offering, Taboka, came in regular and menthol. Taboka was test-marketed in Indianapolis and failed.
Today Marlboro snus is offered in Rich, Mild, Spice and Mint. Camel SNUS is offered in Original, Spice, and Frost...new flavors announced for 2009. Skoal Snus, the latest as of this writing, is mixing it up a little, but with only three offerings: Citrus Blend, Mint, and Cinnamon. Triumph, marketed and flavor-designed by Lorillard but made for them in Sweden offers Original and Mint.
All American Snus's to date come in some kind of dry pouch, period. They only offer one weight in a pouch, period. Since all the American Snus manufacturers are still test marketing and none are available nationally (Klondike says they are national, but most people can't find them. Camel SNUS is scheduled to nationally marketed 1st Quarter, 2009) there are others out there, and they seem to be following the same model.
Swedish Snus: With it's over 200 year history, hundreds of family snus recipes, some long gone, some still here, and new ones being created all the time, both flavor variety and consumer convenience of use has had centuries to mature and variety is a important component of Swedish Snus.
For the sake of convenience, I'm going to use the current inventory of SnusCENTRAL.com, our store for Members and others to Buy Snus as an example. (What? Throwing in a Free Advertisement? Of course not....well maybe.)
When you Buy Snus from SnusCENTRAL.com, you will find over 109 unique flavors and varieties of Swedish Snus; growing all the time, from a host of manufacturers! Not just the 3 or 4 generic categories American Snus Manufacturers seem to think is all Americans need....or deserve.
Swedish Snus comes in not one form like American snus, but three primary forms: Loose, Portion, and White Portion. American Manufacturers (and I'm purposely not talking about the Swedish-Style American Manufacturers: they get their own FAQ) do not offer Loose Snus...just your choice of a few cans with different flavored pouches.
Loose snus is just that: snus in a can. The user, either by hand or with a tool, forms what's commonly called a pinch to the size of their liking and places it between the lip and gum. Many say there is a taste difference between Loose Snus and Snus that comes in pouches, which we're going to referring to as Portions when talking about Swedish Snus.
As to pouches, Swedish Snus is available in two types: the Original Portion pouch which is very similar in construction to a tea bag and the newer White Portion pouch.
QUESTION: Why do American snus manufacturers call the packets they put their snus product in "pouches" and the Swedish call them "portions"?
ANSWER: With American Manufacturers, you only get one choice on the amount of product that is in their pouch. The Swedish give you three portion sizes to choose from based on your personal preference: Mini, Regular, and Maxi. These names refer to the weight in grams of each pouch.
That's important to remember because Camel SNUS, by weight, would be considered a Mini. Yet by the way the constructed the pouch, it actually felt larger than a Swedish Regular Portion, to the point it where it was uncomfortable....at first; then the nicotine and sugar center of my brain over-rode that too.
In fact, with the exception of Triumph which is made for Lorillard in Sweden, all the American Manufactured snus pouches I've seen would be consider Mini Portions at best. Remember that when you read the FAQ on who gives you the most for your money, Swedish Snus or American Snus. Very, very important.
So when it comes to variety, both in flavors, brands, choice of how and how much snus to use, Swedish Snus gives you the widest possible selection for YOUR convenience. They don't try and force you into an A, B, or C choice of flavor and leave it at that.
My favorite analogy to that questions is "What is the difference between a (no offense) cheap White Owl cigar and a fine Cuban cigar?" If all you've ever smoked are White Owl cigars, they may taste OK to you as you've had nothing to compare it against. Once you try a Cuban cigar, you suddenly realize what you have been missing: TASTE. I like McDonald's hamburgers but they can in no way begin to compare to the taste of Fillet Mignon.
I smoked Camel cigarettes for over 30 years and thought they tasted great. But the few times I managed to quit smoking, after a time the odor began to even bother me.
I smoked fine, expensive and (when out of the USA) Cuban cigars during one of these periods. When I went back to cigarettes, I realized just how terrible cigarettes tasted...at least the first one or two. By the end of the week I was back up to a pack and half a day and they tasted fine.
For a taste-test article, I revisited American Snus's for the first time since I discovered Swedish Snus. Without exception, they were all overly sweet, little to no tobacco flavor, and I was doing more of them than I did Swedish Snus to keep my nicotine up. Some were so bad I ended up spitting out the first pouch or two as they made me sick. The frightening thing, though, was that after a while, some became "acceptable".
How could that be? I spit out the first portion in disgust but by the 6th portion, the same snus was now "acceptable"? Not in the league of Swedish Snus, but "acceptable"?
Why was "American Flavor" invented? Who made that decision and WHY would all the other American snus-making cigarette companies follow like lemmings? Why would American Tobacco risk changing the flavor of a product with an over 200 year track record of success?
Philip Morris International makes a snus in Sweden called 1847 which they only market overseas. It's one of my favorites. They KNOW how to make REAL SWEDISH SNUS. So why is Marlboro Snus so different?
In the first and still most popular article on snus I ever wrote, Camel and Marlboro, when it comes to Snus, you LOSE!, I went from cigarettes to Camel SNUS to Swedish Snus in the same day. Many early readers of that article and those that followed were amazed at how much better Swedish Snus tasted than American.
But lately, there's been a shift of tone. People who have used American snus for a year or more now are either having a harder time making the transition to Swedish. It gets back to that sweet taste, weak flavor, sugar....and low nicotine. After some more research, I discovered the following:
There is a separate FAQ on nicotine you can read, but all that's important here is nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet: more addicting than heroin, powder cocaine or crack. By manipulating nicotine levels lower, you can force cigarette smokers to smoke more. By keeping nicotine low in American Snus (Triumph already exposed), it either becomes impossible to switch completely to American Snus or.....quit tobacco altogether!!
But that's only part of it:
American Cigarettes contain between roughly 8% to 18% sugar. Thus each cigarette gives the smoker a "sugar high" as well. This could very well explain why many smokers have a reduced appetite and if try to quit smoking, gain weight. This, combined with nicotine addiction, make it so incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for many people to quit. That's why there are still over 46 million American cigarette smokers in a country where the majority hate cigarettes.
Swedish Snus uses no to little sugar in their products aside from the natural fruit-flavored snus's: no where even close to cigarettes....and it's now apparent why American Snus is so sweet too. Since I'm also diabetic, it explains changes in my blood sugar readings during the periods I stopped smoking as well....and more importantly, when using only American Snus for a week to write a review, my blood glucose levels fluctuated. Some research group should look into that.
So there Really IS a TASTE controversy between Swedish and American Snus. People accustom to the natural flavorings of Swedish Snus find American Snus "Sickly-Sweet", or "Candy-Like". Some Americans who started with and have used an American Snus for any significant amount of time find Swedish Snus "not sweet enough" at first.
HOW MUCH SUGAR is in "American Snus"? We don't know. The FDA does not require that information to be released OR the amount of nicotine. But NOW we know WHY American "snus" is so much sweeter than REAL Swedish snus! To keep users hooked on their product.
But as you'll come to see in other FAQ's and in the articles, reviews and studies contained or accessible through SnusCENTRAL.org, the differences between Quality, Reduced Harm, Nicotine Levels, Ingredients, Selection and ESPECIALLY important in these economic times; Value for your Money: Price versus What and How Much comes in each can; Swedish Snus is the only sensible choice for a snus user. Don't let your nicotine and sugar-addicted brain over-ride your common sense.
Because as you will see, there is a clear HEALTH difference between most American and Swedish Snus's. Learn before you decide. If you choose American snus, at least you'll be an informed consumer. (unlike when it was revealed there was practically no difference in tar between Regular and Light cigarettes) And in America, we still do have personal choice....mostly.
One last word on taste: be it tobacco, vegetables, wine, soft drinks, beer, food, or anything else we consume, taste is in the mouth of the taster. While nicotine complicates that with tobacco products, there are going to be some Swedish Snus's you love, some you think are OK, and some you plain don't like the taste of. Those of you who have only used American snus have your favorites, just like the White Owl cigar smoker may not like Blunts.
That's fine and normal considering the vast selection and offerings of superior quality Swedish Snus (well over a hundred), but just so long as you are comparing different Swedish Snus's, you're brain to nicotine influence is on an equal playing field. Don't compare White Owl cigars to Cuban cigars.
And half the fun of using Swedish Snus is discovering new flavors and brands you do like because, unlike cigarettes, you're in a whole new world of taste: quality taste. Experiment, don't be afraid to switch brands, tastes, or flavors to suit your mood. I personally have at least five different cans/brands of Swedish snus open at the same time depending on my taste desire at the moment. It's wonderful.
So if you've never used American Snus or just started, you'll find the Swedish Snus's absolutely amazing. If you've been using an American Snus for any length of time, you may find some of the Swedish snus's too "strong" (strong meaning that's what snus is supposed to taste like, not watered down like American Snus).
You may want to start with Swedish flavored Mini-Portions; then move up to some of the milder or flavored Normal Portion Swedish Snus's like OffRoad or (just the) General Sterk, Camel Frost fans will be amazed to how General Mini Mint blows Frost out of the water. Swedish Match specifically designed Mini Mint to show the difference between real quality mint snus and Camel Frost.
Talk to other SnusCENTRAL.org Members on the Forum, ask for and read their opinions. Ask questions of the Manufacturers here too.
Read (and write) Member Snus Reviews, there are my reviews, That Snus Guy's reviews and more. Don't be afraid to try new brands and flavors! Never forget, taste IS in the mouth of the taster. If you like it, than it's a good snus for you. If other people don't like it, who cares?
Everyone has different tastes and yours are the only ones that matter to YOU. The selection (as well as price and service) of Swedish Snus at the SnusCENTRAL.com Snus Store makes it an easy great place to buy snus too! When we say Anything and Everything Snus, membership does have it privileges at SnusCENTRAL.org! Welcome to the wonderful world of Swedish Snus!
This month, I decided to mix things up a little bit. General White Portion has been my snus of choice for quite some time along with Göteborgs Rape'.
Lately, though, I've been finding myself a little bored. Unlike cigarette smokers, where (I at least) pretty much settle on a brand and stay with it for years, snus users have the occasional need to switch off to something new. Then when they ultimately come back to their former favorites, it's a new experience again.
Instead of the General White Portion, I bought a roll of Philip Morris 1847 White Portion (that's right, Philip Morris: makers of Marlboro "snus"...and don't think that didn't make me a little nervous!)
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