A Short History of Swedish Snus

A Short History of Swedish Snus

Snuff in Sweden was born in the 16th century when Swedes began to mix tobacco leaves with salt and water to place behind the upper lip. However, Europeans first came into contact with the tobacco plant when Christopher Columbus reached the island of Haiti in the West Indies in October 1492. In early 18th-century Sweden, snus became a moist ground tobacco product originating from a variant of dry nasal snuff. Read this short history of Swedish snus.

In the 1560s, Jean Nicot, French ambassador in Lisbon, came into contact with the tobacco plant, which was then grown in the backyards of Lisbon, and he became so enthusiastic that he took some tobacco plants home to Paris. Carl von Linné used his name for the Latin name given to the tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum.

A Short History of Swedish Snus
Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician Carl von Linné

Since Paris was the model for all European courts, it was not long before snus was being used in the rest of Europe. A customs document from 1627 states that snus was brought to Sweden from Porvoo in Finland for the first time.

Snus for the aristocracy
Snus became very popular, almost a must, among men and women of the aristocracy in the 1700s. The cans were small masterpieces of gold and had to be expensive and handled with carefully controlled elegance. It rapidly became a popular gift and the Swedish tobacco industry had its breakthrough. At the end of the 1700s, tobacco was being grown in about 70 Swedish towns and Swedish consumers switched to placing a pinch of snus under the lip. Many farmers, who had their own tobacco plantations, made their own snus by grounding the tobacco in their coffee grinders or in snus mills that they had carved themselves.

A Short History of Swedish Snus
During the 1800s, the largest brand being Ettan (Number One). Photo: Wikipedia

Manufacturers began to produce local varieties of the moist snus during the 1800s, the largest brand being Ettan (Number One). When the Swedish government needed funds for the military and the first pension reform in the early 1900s, it was to come from tobacco. In 1915, the tobacco monopoly was re-introduced.

Related: Strange Facts About Scandinavia

Record levels of snus consumption in Sweden
In 1919, when Sweden had a population og 6 million people, snus consumption reached record levels (7,000 tons, a consumption of 1.2 kg per capita). After a setback to the benefit of other tobacco products, snus regained its popularity in the late 1960. In 1973, the product developers at Swedish Match created a snus flavored with whiskey, it came in portion bags that were not very different from tea bags. The sales curves for portion-packed snus were pointing upwards. Per-capita consumption of moist snuff between 1970 and 2004 increased steadily from 393 to 922 g per person.

During 2003, 193 million cans of snus (6,761 tons) were sold to approximately one million snus users in Sweden,  and the usage of snus had taken a  step over the customary gender barriers, and women now account for nearly a fifth of snus consumers.

The third largest producer of tobacco products in Europe, Stockholm-based Swedish Match, decided to quit cigarettes in 2016 and steered away from smoke-related tobacco products, focusing instead on snus and chewing tobacco.


Buy snus online
SnusDirect.com, established in Grebbestad, Sweden 2010, is the leading online retailer of Swedish snus, known for its wide range of snus products and its express delivery options. All the snus sold by the company is packaged in environmentally friendly packaging. Green packaging has a reduced impact on the environment because it is made of recycled or recyclable materials.

SnusDirect.com offers a wide range of different snus products in varying flavors, both loose and portions. With the catchphrase ‘Sweden at your doorstep’ SnusDirect.com offers home delivery of orders via Swedish postal service or UPS wherever it is legal to send snus. SnusDirect.com offers excellent customer service and support, and operates out of Grebbestad in Sweden.

The web site is easy to navigate with a user-friendly interface. SnusDirect.com takes all credit cards or bank wire transfers through its secure site.

A Short History of Swedish Snus
Campaign from SnusDirect. Photo: Scrfeenshot

It amazes me that a small company located in Grebbestad, a small seaside resort in Bohuslän on the west-coast of Sweden, can market and sell high quality snus products in an age where tobacco is increasingly vilified and so many classic brands are a part of large corporations. So, we asked Ellinor Kyrk, Customer Relations at SnusDirect, what is the secret to the company’s success?

“From the very start our main goal has been to offer high quality, fresh snus at a low price. Why not share the Swedish snus tradition that we are so proud of with the rest of the world?” she says.

Reports from buying customers and a report from Trustpilot stating that 79% of customers rate the company as ‘excellent’ prove that SnusDirect indeed is a success story.

A Short History of Swedish Snus
Bestseller Lyft

Kyrk admits that selling products online has been challenging, not least selling products all around the world. Changing regulation, shipping couriers and even natural disasters can affect the business. “It is important to keep our promise to the customers with the best quality service we can offer. That is the expectation we have on ourselves and from our customers,” she ads.

Each month new released flavors and strengths in different shapes and formats are released on the market. “One may think the snus market has exhausted their potential in growth and development, but we are surprised each month with what comes next. Of-course we have the oldies but goodies that are on our bestselling lists, and they will most likely always stay, but we also have new innovations on those lists such as the all-white nicotine pouches,” says Ellinor Kyrk.

At the moment it is all about the mint flavors. The company’s top 5 products are all mints in different formats. The fastest growing trend, the top 2 bestsellers, is the tobacco free all-white nicotine pouches. Kyrk emphasizes that these products are hyped up due to their white format, leaving no discoloration on your teeth, and slim fit, making them hardly noticeable.

A Short History of Swedish Snus
Women now account for nearly a fifth of snus consumers

Snusdirect’s two bestsellers are quite new on the snus market, they were launched autumn 2018 and quickly climbed the bestselling lists. These all-white nicotine pouches called LYFT are sold all around the world, the most popular ones are LYFT Freeze and LYFT Ice Cool, they are known for their minty freshness along with the nicotine kick! Another strong snus that quickly increased in demand is the Siberia 80-degrees White Dry, this snus is popular due to the super high nicotine level! It is one of the strongest snus brands on the market with 43 mg/g, this is the can all snusers out there want to try to see if they can handle it. “It was launched on our website in 2017 and has been highly sought-after ever since,” says Kyrk.

In fourth place you will find the well-known General Mint White, a longtime favorite with a lovely sweet peppermint flavor and a traditional tobacco taste in the background. The original General recipe has been refined for 150 years. This is one of the older brands with a taste of history.

When I asked Ellinor Kyrk what the future holds, she answered, “our main focus in the future is to improve our product, we want to reach out to all countries and adapt to their specific needs and demands in order to continue offering high quality goods and services. To do so, our goal is to build a more local presence, we recently opened a new online store in Norway, so we are not only available at snusdirect.com and snusdirect.eu. For Norwegian customers we have opened snusdirect.no to meet their needs and demands in order to provide the best quality service with fast deliveries – fresh snus at a lower price”.

A Short History of Swedish Snus
Snus is simply placed in the mouth, usually between the upper lip and gums on one side discreetly

Facts about Swedish snus
Swedish snus is the popular form of smokeless tobacco, often flavored with exciting and delicious flavors. It is tobacco which is neither chewed nor spat nor smoked, so it does not harm the environment in any way. Simply placed in the mouth, usually between the upper lip and gums on one side discreetly.

It is discreet to carry and use. There are increasing restrictions on smoking, but no restrictions on snus use. Snus can be used in no-smoking areas. People around the snus user are not adversely affected in any manner.

Snus is a pasteurized product, bacteria-free. As it is virtually sterile, it has a long shelf life. In fact, in the freezer it can last for as long as a year.

Snus is available via SnusDirect.com in rolls or cans.

A Short History of Swedish Snus, written by Tor Kjolberg

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.