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Snus, the good and the bad.

tl;dr: scroll down to the dot points for a quick pros and cons!

I’ve been a smoker for about 16 years and by now, I’m utterly fed up with it.  The only enjoyment I really get out of it (aside from the obvious nicotine satisfaction) is the social aspect of it and the ability to get away from things for a few minutes and either take a break or think about things without distraction.  I’ve always missed these two aspects whenever I’ve (momentarily) given up smoking.  And by giving up I think I have tried it all.

It started with patches and gum, which do work to a degree but which fail to really satisfy; especially the patches.  Gum just made my mouth and throat burn and my bosses don’t like it when I chew so using gum at work is taboo.  Nicotine withdrawal or any alteration to the intake regime is painful and disruptive but in a supportive environment, can also be quite liberating.  In saying that, I’ve also been through two lots of Zyban and Champix each; a pharmaceutical regime which tells your brain “you don’t need to smoke”.  They both worked brilliantly except the Zyban the second time around did nothing to quell the cravings.  Champix was equally effective both times I was on the program however because of the anticipated psychological side effects, my employer is required to know when I am on it and the work I can do is limited when I’m on it; which usually pisses them off.

I also outlayed about $100 and spent perhaps another $100 in total on various batteries, fluids, chargers and cases for an electronic cigarette setup for both my wife and I.  I loved vaping and sometimes occasionally still do and used it exclusively in place of smoking for many months however when I got a chest infection, I found it really hard to shake while I was still using them.  Being that a liquid vapour transports the nicotine into the lungs and remains there as a fluid until coughed up or perhaps, even absorbed; I decided against this fairly new and untested method of nicotine delivery as it merely added to my chest congestion.  The main ingredients of the nicotine transport medium in e-fluid is propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine.  Research seems to suggest that they might be relatively safe for inhalation but cause some local irritation of the mucous membranes of the throat and lungs (which nicotine certainly does anyway), however it left me feeling uncomfortable in the prospect that it may not be as harmless as all it’s financial supporters would have us believe.

So what happened on those drug regimes?  The longest stint without smoking in the past 16 years has been about 3-4 months using Champix.  However I have this horrible tendency to smoke when I’m bored or limited in what I can do as sometimes my work requires me to sit out in a remote location somewhere, literally waiting.  My last attempt at giving up fell onto such an occasion and inevitably, the desire to smoke won out in the end.  I make no apologies, I’m an addict and I know it!

So, enough pre-amble.  What about snus?

Wikipedia: Snus

Snus (pronounced ‘snoos’) is a form of smokeless tobacco; a smoking alternative which delivers nicotine via the mucosa of the inner upper lip.   It can either present as loose-weight in varying degrees of tobacco leaf length/fineness or more commonly contained in different sized portion pouches that look like little tea bags.  Snus comes in a range of flavours (mint being the most popular) but all of them basically taste like tobacco in the end.

A work colleague introduced me about 4 years and the love affair began, though it would be untrue to say that it hasn’t be a rocky relationship.  Addiction is a murky beast and hard to tame.  More often than not, addictions have a way of taming the master.  Just ask me about alcoholism; but that may be for another day!

 

 

Nicotine levels in snus are almost as immediately satisfying as a cigarette however it seems to last a lot longer.  The snus technique can initially take a little getting used to however now that I have, I can almost safely say I am ready to give cigarettes the flick altogether (again, as I have used snus exclusively with success for about a month previously).  One thing that always keeps me coming back to smoking however is that first one (or two) in the morning with coffee.  Oh, did I mention I’m addicted to caffeine as well?  I’ll get to that one in due time!

I think I may have found the answer to that little conundrum as well! Snuff!

Wikpedia: Snuff

I’m still waiting on my shipment to arrive however from what I’ve read, I anticipate that it will have that initial kick my body craves in the morning as well as throughout the day; in combination with snus.

So for the time being, I am taking the path of least resistance.  My nicotine demon is still being fed, my wallet likes the lower cost and my lungs like the added cardio and lack of a hacking cough.  It’s not forever as I abhor being dependant on anything in life; at least, anything that is not vital to fulfilling the functions of life or cannot be independently replenished.  So for the time being I am reliant on receiving my nicotine crack through the mail.

In summary

Snus Pros:

  • cheap at only $3-5 per tin of ~20 portions
  • effective, prolonged nicotine hit
  • discrete compared to smoking/vaping, especially with a mini or long portion under the lip
  • after trialling a few types, some of the mint pouches can be rather pleasant
  • a lot healthier than smoking and vaping
  • robust packaging, easy to transport and quick to use; no need for lighters, ashtrays, recharging batteries
  • can be used indoors

Snus Cons:

  • towards the end of a pouches life under the lip (generally after 10-20 minutes), it generates a foul tasting spit which must be disposed of (thoughtfully) – I use a small bottle or sink indoors or grass/bushes outdoors
  • not as immediately satisfying as smoking/vaping
  • may still present health risks to the mouth, tongue and throat (esp. if swallowed)
  • doesn’t help with my heartburn (esp. if swallowed)
  • seems to draw moisture away from the rest of the mouth, leaving one thirsty
  • can make your lip look strange when you smile or speak, especially with loose-weight, large or maxi portion
  • has a tendency to stain the teeth and plaque which sit underneath the snus

 

snus_smile

 

Further reading:

Please leave any feedback, comments or questions.

Update, 10 Nov 2013 – I started a Facebook group aimed at furthering discussion, join up and share your thoughts and experiences!
Facebook: Snuff, Snus and Dip Users

– R

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