Interesting Facts And Health Risks of Snuff Tobacco You Probably Didn’t Know

Ever wondered why the scientists, soldiers, stage artists, creative writers, musicians and athletes have been smokers? Stephen Heisman from the National institute of Drug Abuse, performed researches and analysis for almost 40 years, which proved, there is a good reason behind highly competitive peoples’ smoking.

The nicotine boost helps them produce unique and competitive performances and calm their nerves when the proverbial crap hits the fan. Slowly but surely these individuals embrace smoking in their lifestyle!

It is no secret that most of the top footballers and artists were avid smokers during the crowning period in their careers due to the positive effects of nicotine on the human brain.

Tobacco pipe; image source:

There has been a significant decline in the US while the smokeless tobacco consumption has consistently risen. Today, let us explore some facts around such a smokeless tobacco called Snuff Tobacco.

What is Snuff Tobacco?

Snuff is environment friendly, smokeless, a non-offensive form of tobacco made of ground or minced tobacco leaves. It can be dry/moist and comes in a variety of flavours like Wintergreen, Apricot or Cherry.

It is usually sniffed/inhaled through nasal cavity hence the name ‘Snuff’. The moist variety is also known as a dip because it can be placed in mouth, which is commonly known as dipping tobacco.

Fact 1 – Origin and History of Snuff

Indigenous Brazilians used to pound tobacco leaves in rosewood mortar and pestle that gave tobacco its flavour. That’s how snuff originated and is known to exist since the past 150 years. Snuff arrived into Europe somewhere around 1493-94 when Friar Pané’s who accompanied Columbus on the World voyage returned to Spain.

By 16th century, snuff became a luxury commodity and gained fame amongst French nobility so much that it was labelled as Herba Regina(Catherine de’ Medici’s Royal seal of approval) due to its curative medicinal properties. By 18th century, it became popular in England and was prominent amongst the elite class.

From 1800 to mid-1930, the communal snuff box found its place amongst the US Congress members and has been used by considerable population of US since then. For centuries it has been a traditional hobby of many Asian, African and European countries’ workers and farmers’ classes.

Fact 2 – Snuff Accessories Used To Be a Lucrative Market

Long back in its golden era, snuff boxes were made from horn in highly decorative designs containing precious metals and stones. Snuff became dry and lost its quality over time, hence pocket snuff boxes were designed as airtight containers with strong hinges. Also, larger quantities were stored in “Mulls” made from a variety of materials, including ram horns decorated with silver. A floral-scented snuff box, “English Rose”, is well known among members of the British House of Commons.

Although, very few people use snuff these days, snuff bottles in China, made of glass, decorated on the inside that came in layered multi-coloured glass were popular. Snuff bullet, designed to make snuff-use easier and more modest in public situations is a good example. These days, most of the snuff is packaged in small tins or food grade plastic fibred containers for convenience rather than luxury.

Fact 3 – Sneezing after Inhaling Snuff is Natural and Safe

Sniffing a small pinch of snuff can immediately relieve clogged nose as you experience a gusto of exhale! Yes, it is natural to sneeze especially after sniffing dry snuff and it doesn’t hurt. Congestion, running nose and sneezing are part and parcel of the snuff experience, especially for first time/new users.

It is better to snuff in the morning or just before bedtime, instead of doing it during the day when you are in public. The only caution is not to try to get it too deep in your nose as you may experience a high hit of exploding nicotine in your brain. There is no harm to use it as a cleaning  agent for the blocked nasal cavity!

Fact 4 – Flavours are Added to Attract New Users

Depending on the climatic conditions where the tobacco plantations are grown, they have various inherent aromas which may or may not be appealing to all the palates. Hence, premium brands like Skoal, who have traditionally dominated the moist snuff variety incorporated a range of flavours and long cuts.

The common cuts include loose, pellets, leaf and plugs. The flavours by Skoal include:

  • Skoal Xtra Wintergreen Long Cut – A prominent taste of wintergreen candy-like flavour.
  • Skoal Xtra Mint Long Cut Fresh minty flavour
  • Skoal Cherry Long Cut – Tastes like seasonal cherries
  • Skoal Wintergreen Long Cut – Has a subtle taste of wintergreen.
  • Skoal Straight Long Cut – Tastes like spicy tobacco and has sweetness.
  • Skoal Spearmint Long Cut – Flavourful fresh spearmint taste.
  • Skoal Peach Long Cut – Pleasant fruity tastes of peaches.
  • Skoal Mint Long Cut – Tastes like fresh mint.
  • Skoal Classic Long Cut – Taste of plain tobacco.
  • Skoal Citrus Blend Long Cut – Flavours of a refreshing citrus blend.

Note that the Skoal Xtra products are sweetened and more flavourful than regular Skoal. All the varieties by Skoal are loose cut comprising of small filaments of tobacco.

The fact that snuff is used by people around 24 to 35 to relax and associate with pleasant social activities justifies the need for it being flavourful.

Fact 5 – Health Risks Related to Snuff:

Although the usage of snuff may result in enhanced performances, it is worth knowing the health risks associated with snuff:

  • It is a misbelief that snuff has no/less health risks compared to smoking tobacco. Remember that any form of tobacco that enters your body contains cancerous substances that eventually reach sensitive body parts like lungs, heart, stomach and intestinal tracts. Hence, snuff can be a cause of heart problems and various digestive issues.
  • Snuff is not an alternative to quit tobacco as the nicotine content causes an addictive dependency. Medical prescriptions, behavioural counselling and nicotine free replacements like gums, pills and patches can be better substitutes to tobacco.
  • Long-term use of oral snuff (moist variety) or nasal snuff (dry variety) can cause oral or throat cancer and morphologically deform the nasal tract.
  • Snuff can damage you dental health. Bad breath and stained teeth can adversely affect your social relationships as well.
  • Withdrawal syndrome can cause irritability and lowered attentiveness.

Most of the snuff sold in the UK, US or any other country comes with warning signs. The fact that is banned in some parts of Australia and Europe suggests that it is not entirely safe.

So next time if someone offers you a dip/nasal snuff feel free to say- no thanks. After all, smokeless or not, choosing tobacco is all about you!

About author:
This article was contributed to by a guest author.


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