Swedish Snus: Since 1970, the Swedish Government has strictly regulated the manufacture of Snus as a Food Product. They have very strict criteria on ingredients, ingredients disclosures and levels of harmful substances, quality control, and especially the manufacturing process in order to meet food safety standards.
The biggest difference by far is that Swedish snus must be specially steam pasteurized to Swedish Government specifications which kills virtually all the TSNA's (carcinogens) naturally found in tobacco. Some Swedish Manufacturers go even further than required. This makes any snus legally made in Sweden a de facto Reduced Harm Tobacco product.
Swedish Snus (except for those which specifically say nicotine-free) do contain nicotine. Nicotine does have negative health ramifications but nicotine does not cause cancer. It does affect the cardiovascular system and should not, like any tobacco product, be used by pregnant women as the nicotine will travel to the fetus. There are also conflicting studies on the negative effect nicotine has on the pancreas.
However, the general scientific community consensus today is that whatever effects nicotine absorbed orally has on the pancreas, it is 50% less dangerous than nicotine inhaled into the lungs through cigarette smoking. So for the truly nicotine addicted like myself who are unable to stop using tobacco products for any length of time, Swedish Snus is the least harmful of the the tobacco options available.
In long-term studies contained on SnusCENTRAL.org, Swedish men were found to be the largest group of snus users in Europe by far, but had the LOWEST rates of mouth, throat, and lung cancer. Based on the latest studies, the Swedish Government has eliminated the requirement for Swedish Snus manufacturers to label their products "This Product May Cause Mouth Cancer" because it simply doesn't.
In the United States, you will see the Mouth Cancer Warning on Swedish Snus still. It's not based in fact; just a government regulation which currently lumps all smokeless tobacco into one big category. We're hopeful this will change with FDA regulation of tobacco products.
American Snus: Snus manufactured in the United States is virtually unregulated and the US Government has set no standards or even clearly defined to American snus manufacturers what snus is. Skoal snus, for example, does not make any mention in any of their literature or on their website of pasteurizing their "snus". Nordic American Smokeless, who own the Nordic Ice and Klondike brands went from touting pasteurization to now saying they use a process "like pasteurization but which isn't pasteurization"
Thus we have no idea what the TSNA levels of these and some other American Snuses are or how cancerous they are. We also have no idea of their ingredients. And we have no idea of how much nicotine is in their products because they won't tell us.
Camel SNUS does claim to pasteurize their snus, but in what way and for how long using what method, we have no idea. Thus we have no idea what their TSNA levels are, how and with what they are flavored, and what other ingredients or substances are used. We do know from the Camel SNUS FAQ's on their website that they are VERY emphatic NOT to swallow the pouch. Why? What is it made of? Swedish regular portions are packaged in something very similar to a tea bag.
I've accidentally swallowed a portion or two of Swedish Snus. On an empty stomach, it did make my nauseous, but that would be expected. If I swallowed a Camel pouch after reading their FAQ, I'd be rushing to the emergency room to have my stomach pumped instead of just taking a couple of antacids like when I swallowed the Swedish portion.
The bottom line on American Snus is in many cases, we have NO idea what's in it, how it's made, how reduced harm or how dangerous it really is.
The FDA mandates food manufacturers disclose not only ingredients, but how many grams of fat, what kind of fat, of sugar, of sodium, of carbohydrates, and more. They also regulate food handling procedures and quality control to ensure the safest possible standards are maintained.
Unlike Sweden, they do not do that for snus. At least not yet. There are at this point in time bills in both Houses of Congress pending to place all tobacco products under FDA control. Rep. Waxman (D-CA), a long-time anti-tobacco activist sponsored the House version. Senator Ted Kennedy the Senate; thus Kennedy/Waxman. As of this writing, Kennedy/Waxman has passed the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate. For the first time, the words "reduced harm tobacco products" (meaning Swedish/Swedish Style Snus) appeared in this version.
What is unclear is the motive: to reduce harm and ensure disclosure to the consumers of American snus ingredients and levels of harmful substances......or to ban ALL tobacco products, starting with cigarettes.
In reaction to this, the new breed of American snus manufacturers are beginning to manufacture their snus to the Swedish Model. Some like American Smokeless Tobacco will readily tell you their nicotine, TSNA levels, and how much their pasteurization equipment cost. They are wisely getting ahead of the inevitable regulation of tobacco products by FDA in the United States and want to make sure their products qualify for inclusion in the expected Reduced Harm Tobacco Products category.
SnusCENTRAL.org is monitoring those bills and others effecting tobacco users and the latest news can be found in our SnusNus area. Information on specific bills as they progress through Congress are updated live as the Congressional record is, which is one day behind the current date.
There are many articles and studies going into detail on the above on SnusCENTRAL.org. It's a hot item of discussion in the SnusCENTRAL Forum Section too.