Characteristics of "American snus" and Swedish snus products for sale in Massachusetts, USA

Andrew B. Seidenberg*, Olalekan A. Ayo-Yusuf, Vaughan W. Rees

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Snus may present lower health risks than cigarettes, but its harm reduction potential may be undermined if used dually with cigarettes. The likelihood of exclusive snus use compared with dual use may depend in part on the capacity of snus to deliver nicotine in doses that are satisfactory to smokers. We examined characteristics of "American snus" products, including nicotine levels, and compared to snus products that are more typical of Sweden. Methods: Tobacco industry reports for snus products submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for the year 2014 were used to assess moisture (%), pH, total nicotine, and unionized (free) nicotine (both mg/g and percent of total). A total of 14 ("American") snus products made by American manufacturers Philip Morris USA (n = 6), R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (n = 6), and US Smokeless Tobacco Company (n = 2), were compared with Swedish-style ("Swedish") snus products (n = 10) made by Swedish Match North America. Results: Compared with Swedish snus, American snus brands contained significantly lower concentrations of unionized nicotine (median: 0.52 mg/g vs. 6.52 mg/g; p < .001) and proportion of unionized nicotine (median: 3.17% vs. 81.8%; p < .001). American snus brands also had significantly lower pH (median: 6.54 vs. 8.68; p < .001) and moisture (median: 30.3% vs. 53.4%; p < .001). Conclusions: Swedish-made snus has higher unionized nicotine, measured by concentration and proportion of total nicotine, compared with snus products made by American manufacturers. These findings suggest that American snus products have lower addiction potential than Swedish snus, and may be more likely to be used dually with cigarettes than as a sole source of nicotine. Implications: American snus products contain significantly lower unionized nicotine, lower pH, and lower moisture, compared with Swedish snus products. Snus addiction potential and patterns of usage, including co-use with cigarettes, may differ between American and Swedish snus products due to differences in snus product characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberntw334
Pages (from-to)262-266
Number of pages5
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


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