Differences in Smokeless Tobacco Products

A few years ago i was trying to quit smoking cigarettes. Considering switching to a smokeless tobacco product brought up the question in my mind “what are the differences between smokeless tobacco products?”. Many people might be surprised to learn there really are differences in smokeless tobacco. It would require several pages to even partially define all smokeless products. I will keep it a general overview and as short as possible.

To began, the list above can be narrowed down by clearing up a few things.

Snuff; nasal, nose, dry, powered and “sniffing tobacco” are all the same product. “Officially” all are really “dry snuff” or also known as “nasal snuff”. All six terms can be used interchangeably or independently. Thus, dry nasal snuff, nasal tobacco, dry snuff, sniffing snus, sniffing tobacco, and the list could go on.

Dip and snuff are terms sometimes used to mean the same type of preparation. To clarify, it is a ground, semi moist and fermented preparation sold in puck style cans with either a tin or plastic lid. This product originates in the USA. Sometimes it is refereed to as just snuff or semi-moist snuff but most often as dip or dipping tobacco. Keep in mind that officially snuff is defined as dry nasal snuff.

In order to further clarify or confuse the subject according to ones point of view, “dip” originated in the southern part of America. Older females (mostly) would “dip” dry snuff by licking their fingers, dipping them into dry snuff and rubbing it onto their gums. Later when products such as Copenhagen became popular people identified them as wet (dry but now wet) snuff. Thus the term dipping tobacco became well known. Dip can be a product such as Copenhagen or ‘Swisher Dixie sweet snuff’ because one is called dip and the other is dipped.

That refines the list of terms down to the following list. In order to further illustrate each term an example brand is included along side each term.

  • Snus (Swedish General snus)
  • Dipping tobacco (American Copenhagen snuff)
  • Dry snuff (nasal)
  • Chewing tobacco (Redman)

Swedish snus is regulated under Sweden’s Food Act therefore must be manufactured to it’s specifications. It is a semi-moist ground product which is sold in loose and portion formats. The most basic characteristics of snus include tobacco, water, salt and is steam-pasteurized to kill certain micro organisms. It’s use does not require any spitting. It is virtually unknown what Americanized versions of snus contain or how they are produced.

American dip is a ground moist product which is sold in loose and pouch formats. It is fermented which encourages the growth of certain micro organisms. Users normally spit all day or else risk getting sick.

Dry snuff is manufactured worldwide and generally speaking is pulverized tobacco with aromas or flavorings added. It is used by sniffing it into ones nostrils in small amounts.

Chewing tobacco comes in several formats but all have one thing in common, it is leaf tobacco which has not been ground. Some types use whole leaf but most brands today are partial leaf. It is sold in loose leaf (pouch), plug, twist and Piccanell tobacco bits. Chew is fermented, has flavorings and sweeteners added such as sugar, molasses, etc..

Another site worth checking out for examples of different types of smokeless tobacco and explanations.