Sweden’s love affair with snus: What’s it all about?

In Sweden, you can’t avoid snuff tobacco or snus, as it’s called by Swedes. In fact, I live next door to the so-called Snus King’s castle. Knut Fredrik Ljunglöf finished the enormous palace in 1893, thirty years after taking over his father’s successful tobacco snus company.

And Ljunglöfs Ettan is still one of Sweden’s most popular snus brands on the market.

When I moved to Sweden eight years ago, I had no idea that Swedes did snus…I thought it was only Americans who chewed tobacco. So I was even more surprised to learn that women did it too. And I don’t mean to be a male chauvinist, but good looking women…women who did snus while putting on their make-up at the same time.

In fact, the other day, I was doing a story for a radio show I work for, and the female police officer I was interviewing changed her snus tobacco two times during the interview.

My Swedish brother-in-law and my father-in-law both do it. And everyone tries it at least once. As I’m sitting here writing this now, my Swedish wife says, ”If you’re Swedish, you have to try it.”

So how Swedish is snus? I would say it’s up there with some of the classic ”Swedish” things out there – like skiing, eating meatballs, swimming in really cold water, and taking tons of vacations.

It’s so ingrained in the Swedish culture that in 1995 when Sweden joined the EU, the country was granted an exception and was allowed to continue to manufacture and sell snus inside Sweden. Many at the time said that if snus was banned, that Sweden would not have joined the EU.

There’s also a pretty cool Swedish tobacco museum in Stockholm. Check that out.

So, have you tried it? Do you like it or not? Come on now, I want to hear your stories about Swedish snus.

2 Replies to “Sweden’s love affair with snus: What’s it all about?”

  1. Tried it and I love it.

    This was three or four years ago, when I was trying to quit smoking. I spotted some chewing tobacco in a shop and tried it. It was not too bad and it kept me from smoking cigarettes. But eventually the shop no longer offered it.

    So I browsed the intenet. Not only did I find some more chewing tobacco, but I also found Swedish snus and lots of information about it. I was shocked, that it was illegal to sell it in the EU. But it was possible to order it over the internet.

    This started my carreer as a snuser. I developed preferences for certain brands and with each purchase I tried a couple of new brands. Receving a shipment was always a joyful event.

    My desire to smoke cigarettes has dropped to zero meanwhile.

    Then about a year ago, the customs confiscated one of shipments. The next shipment came through, but ever so often they would confiscate it. Additionally the number of brands which were available dropped dramatically.

    So I had to accept, that Snus is simply no longer available in the EU and I bought an e-cigarette. This is also fun, but belogs to a different story. Occasionally I can find someone who brings me a roll of Snus from Sweden, which lasts me two or three months.

    Unfortunately the new Tobacco Products Directive confirmed the ban of selling Snus in the EU. This makes me doubt, that the EU commission is really concerned about public health, because for me Snus was a life-saver.

  2. Urgh – it’s the grossest thing! I keep thinking that people have really brown rotten teeth, and then I realize it’s just snus and it’s no better!

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