04 August 2014

General Snus in America (US vs Swedish) and the Warning Label Myths. 31 July 2014.

One question I see asked often is, "What's the difference between General sold in the US and General sold in Sweden?". I figured it was time to write an article about it, because it's a common question, and I want to help put a lot of the questions to bed. General Snus has been growing in the US and now sells 6 varieties of REAL Swedish Snus in America - Original, White, Loose, Mint, Mini Mint and Wintergreen.  There were formerly "square tin" versions of General sold in the US but they have since been discontinued.


Before we go into discussing each product, I want to be very clear so there is no confusion.

There is  no difference between the products sold in America and the products sold in Sweden other than can design.  All US General Snus is made in Sweden and imported to the US to be sold.  It is the exact same product as what you would get in Sweden.  


Different Portion Formats
General Snus comes in different portion formats. The four more common ones are:

Mini - This is the format that General Mini Mint comes in.
White - This is the format that General White, General Wintergreen and General Mint come in.
Original - This is the format that General Original comes in.

Mini, Slim and White are standard White Portions - meaning the extra step where moisture is added at the end of producing an Original Portion is skipped.  They have less drip, and the flavor develops more slowly.  An Original Portion is more moist and the flavor comes on more quickly, and they have more drip than the White Portion format.

Original

The GeneralSnus.com description of Original is, “If you want the bold flavor that started it all, Original delivers. This blend of 22 tobaccos and a hint of Bergamot comes in a fast-release pouch that's ready when you are.” They also note, “The expertly-balanced flavor of our 22-tobacco blend takes center stage.”

The BuySnus.com description of Original is, “The one and only General Classic Portion! Swedish snus Classic with a spicy taste and pronounced bergamot flavor. Add a hint of tea, grass and leather... Bergamot is a citrus fruit which provides the snus with a fresh taste. For many snusers around the world, General Portion is synonymous for real Swedish snus... Now in 1g-portions again - 24g tobacco weight per can! Full-sized pouch, moistened for fast and robust flavor release.”

In Store Sales:  US and Sweden
Online Sales:  US and International
Portions Per Can:  24
Can Difference:  US Can (right) and Swedish Can (left).  Slightly different design on each can.
Product Difference:  None.

Our Review: (link)
When it comes to snus, General Original Portion is as straight up Swedish Snus as it gets. When you open the can the aroma of citrus greets you immediately. Since it's an original portion, the portions are much more moist than a white portion. After a little fluffing, the portions are very comfortable in the lip. The taste is the traditional taste of bergamot, a type of citrus reminiscent of a grapefruit/orange blend, a mellow salt balance, and that kick of pepper that most General products have in common. It's a great snus and has a great taste.

White

The GeneralSnus.com description of White is, “A spicy, citrus-infused snus with hints of tea, hay and leather creates a vibrant blend that elevates every experience.” They also note, “The expertly-balanced flavor of our 22-tobacco blend takes center stage.”


The BuySnus.com description of White is, “The famous General Classic White Portion - a spicy snus just like General Classic Portion, with the typical bergamot flavor and hints of pepper, grass and leather. Bergamot, a citrus fruit, provides the snus with a fresh flavor and the typical General-feeling. The full-sized pouch with a dry surface is less runny than an original - together with the moist snus inside, it provides for a long-lasting flavor release.”

In Store Sales:  US and Sweden
Online Sales:  US and International
Portions Per Can:  24
Can Difference:  US Can (right) and Swedish Can (left).  Slightly different design on each can.
Product Difference:  None.

Our Review: (link)
When you open the can, a mellow aroma of citrus greets you.  The flavor gradually grows and matures into a great experience. A mild taste of salt began, and then small notes of pepper. A taste of citrus started to blend in, and continued to grow, balancing and blending perfectly with the mild taste of salt and the small notes of pepper began to grow until all these flavors - salt, pepper, citrus, and the tobacco - came to a full, but mellow blend.

Loose

The GeneralSnus.com description of Loose is, “If you're a seasoned snus user, or if you're just feeling bold, Loose delivers a quick and robust release of our full-bodied, spicy flavor with notes of Bergamot and hints of tea, hay and leather.” They also note, “The expertly-balanced flavor of our 22-tobacco blend takes center stage.”

The BuySnus.com description of Loose is, “The one and only General Classic Loose! Unique blend of 22 tobaccos and a hint of bergamot. For many snusers around the world, General Loose is synonymous for real Swedish snus. The recipe of 1866 changed the taste of snus forever: Full-bodied, spicy tobacco taste with pronounced notes of bergamot and hints of hay and green grass. A loose snus that is easy to hand mold into a pillow shape which fits snuggly under the lip. Provides a fast flavor release with full bodied character.”

In Store Sales:  US and Sweden
Online Sales:  US and International
Grams Per Can:  42g
Can Difference:  US Can (right) and Swedish Can (left).  Slightly different design on each can.
Product Difference:  None.

Our Review: (link)
When I make suggestions for loose snus to people who are new to loose, I always suggest Swedish Match products. The grind of their tobacco in los format makes it the easiest to hand bake, and their loose stays together the best in the lip. The aroma of this one is a little different than the original portion - you can detect more of the tobacco in the smell, a little smoky presence, and the citrus. The taste is great - getting you as close to the tobacco as possible. The flavor of bergamot/citrus is very present, but you can taste more of the earthy tobacco flavor in the loose. There's a presence of salt, and a little pepper kick to round it out. If you're new to snus and want to try loose, or you're an ex dipper, the Swedish Match line is the easiest to start with. If you're in the US and coming over from dip, General Snus is growing in it's ease of availability, so grab a can of this if you want to experience what loose snus is all about.

Mini Mint

The GeneralSnus.com description of Mini Mint is, “This mild, well-balanced blend has distinctly cool peppermint notes for a fresh, lasting release of flavor that makes the most of any occasion. Mini Mint comes in a smaller pouch with low moisture.” They also note, “A lighter, refreshing tobacco flavor.”

The BuySnus.com description of Mini Mint is, “General snus in mini size, with the characteristic flavor of General Mint - a clear and refreshing peppermint aroma!”

In Store Sales:  US Only
Online Sales:  US and International
Portions Per Can:  20
Can Difference:  None, this product is only sold in the US over the counter, and online to the International market (where available), so there is only one can design.
Product Difference:  None.

Our Review: (link)
Upon receiving my first can of General Mini Mint, I opened the can and quickly smelled mint.  General Mini Mint has a great taste, but not overly sweet like the Camel stuff. It has a fresh peppermint taste with a slight hint of tobacco and a little salt in the background - which was new to me, as this wasn't common with American "SNUS". The portion was small, and a little awkward compared to what I usually use, but I adjusted.

Mint

The GeneralSnus.com description of Mini Mint is, “This mild, well-balanced blend has distinctly cool peppermint notes for a fresh, lasting release of flavor that makes the most of any occasion.” They also note, “A lighter, refreshing tobacco flavor.”

The BuySnus.com description of Mint is, “Still the by-far most popular mint snus - General Mint, with a clear and refreshing flavor of peppermint. The 1g white portion gives a fresh feeling and is less runny than an original, with the moist snus providing for a long lasting snus experience.”

In Store Sales:  US Only
Online Sales:  US and International
Portions Per Can:  24
Can Difference:  None, this product is only sold in the US over the counter, and online to the International market (where available), so there is only one can design.
Product Difference:  None.

Our Review: (link)
The aroma is like the original Mini Mint, a sweet mint aroma, much like pure mint oil, which I think is what's used to add the flavor to this - because it's quite similar to mint oil. General Mint has a pure mint flavor, it is sweet - but very gently so. A mellow salt balance accompanies the sweet mint flavor, which lasts much longer than it's little mini brother, up to an hour and a half for all the portions I used. A nice little nic hit, and minimal drip.

Wintergreen

The GeneralSnus.com description of Wintergreen is, “Our most invigorating blend starts with a light, earthy tobacco flavor and ends with a mildly sweet Wintergreen taste.” They also note, “A cool, refreshing and slightly sweet tobacco blend.”

The BuySnus.com description of Wintergreen is, “A General snus with a strong Wintergreen flavor. Extremely refreshing!”

In Store Sales:  US Only
Online Sales:  US and International
Portions Per Can:  24
Can Difference:  None, this product is only sold in the US over the counter, and online to the International market (where available), so there is only one can design.
Product Difference:  None.

Our Review: (link)
Keep in mind, i'm not a fan of Wintergreen.  If you're a fan of Wintergreen, this product may be for you - it just wasn't for me.  I've heard numerous Wintergreen dippers say they love this product, so keep that in mind when reading my review.
Sad to say, this snus isn't for me.. Not to say it's a bad product. The smell was the same as wintergreen dip - however being a white portion it was a little more mellow, and the taste...well, exactly like it smells.  It's not as bold as an original portion Wintergreen or Wintergreen dip, but the flavor still had the presence of Wintergreen. I kept the portion in my mouth long enough to feel the nicotine delivery, but I couldn't get past the taste. Wintergreen just isn't for me.

Snus Warning Labels:  Myths and Misconceptions

If you're new to snus, you'll notice that these warning labels are very predominant on snus cans sold in the US.  But they aren't on cans sold in Sweden.  The reason for that being that Swedish Snus is regulated by the Swedish FDA, and they've determined that these warning labels are simply not true, so you won't see these false statements on Swedish Snus cans sold in Sweden like you see on the ones sold in the US.  The US FDA is still investigating these labels, and Swedish Match is working at getting a Modified Risk Label on snus cans, so hopefully in time you won't see these labels on REAL snus cans in the US.


Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

First, the myth of gum disease and tooth loss. This one was debunked in a study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology by Anders Hugoson from Jönköping University and Margot Rolandsson from Karlstad University. This study found "...no significant association between gingivitis, [periodontal pockets] and periodontal disease experience and snus use."  In fact, there is not one piece of evidence that can point to, or proves that, snus causing tooth loss - because it simply isn't true.

Mouth Cancer

This one was debunked in a study released in 2003 from Tobacco Control.  That concluded that their "…results do not support any association between use of oral snuff and oral cancer."  This is probably one of the most widely spread myths when it comes to Swedish Snus, however this one couldn't be farther from the truth.

Not A Safe Alternative

Numerous studies and reports have pointed to the opposite. In a study in Harm Reduction Journal, Carl Phillips stated, "It has long been known that while no nicotine product is completely harmless, harm reduction products pose only about 1% the risk from smoking and this difference is so great that for the average smoker, using a smokeless product for the rest of his life poses about the same risk as 30 days of continuing to smoke."  Brad Rodu mentioned in an article in Nordic Reach, "...we have a solid scientific foundation to stand on that shows that modern, smokeless products are 98 percent less harmful than cigarettes."

Addiction

This is the only warning label that contains truth, as any form of nicotine is addictive.  In a study released in the British Medical Journal, it was said that, “Nicotine is as addictive as "hard" drugs such as heroin.” However, in an article in The Los Angeles Times, Brad Rodu from the University of Alabama suggests, “…nicotine should be treated more like caffeine: as an addictive drug that can be used safely. We would have smokers understand the nicotine addiction can be separated from the smoking.” It is important to separate the dangerous health risks from the addictive ones to be able to approach tobacco harm reduction as a practical aid in smoking cessation. A key principal to recognize is that harm reduction is not harm elimination. In 2010, Dr. Karl Fagerström spoke to this in an interview with 60 Minutes for their televised broadcast of “Going Smokeless” stating, “It’s true. It’s true. And that’s why I say this not to harm elimination. They are still dependent. And addiction is seen as an unnatural state. Thus, addiction is a problem. But this is less of a problem than lung cancer.” While it is recognized that Swedish snus contains nicotine and is addictive, the addiction to nicotine can be handled safely and responsibly and present Swedish snus as an alternative to the smoker who wishes to quit.

7 comments:

  1. Useful insight to those wanting to select their niche in snus. The white mint portions have been quite a hit- would be dippers more aware of artificial ingredients have been drifting toward Svenskt snus. Expats in Thailand have been big on the mint, and some finding it as a way to give up smoking. Look at articles, blogs by Brad Rodu, an oral surgeon.

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  2. General mint contains "natural and artificial flavors along with an artificial sweetener (Acesulfame K)". This is why I stick to minimally flavored snus like General loose original.

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  3. Hey chad I've talked to you on r/snus. Just wanna say you have a great blog here and general is the best!

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  4. A little late to the party here... Chad, I just had to weigh in... thank you for the great review of General Wintergreen. Based on your objective critique I knew I was going to love this stuff, even though you indicated you didn't. Lo and behold, in the last two months General snus has shown up in the small rural area where I live... and get this, they sell it in a fake refrigerator in a local tobacco shop. I couldn't believe they had it and then just laughed when I saw the "'fridge" they had it in was a fake, plastic display case that looked like a 'fridge. America. Anyway... if you are a dipper, particularly of Skoal Bandits WIntergreen, General's Wintergreen BLOWS SKOAL OUT OF THE WATER. This is the first time I have found a Scandinavian snus that tastes like American, fire-cured tobacco and it is wonderful. I have been trying to completely get out of Copenhagen and move to snus but I just can't find a replacement for the semi-sweet, smokey, rich goodness of the Cope. General Wintergreen is almost identical to wintergreen Skoal Bandits but is superior in several ways. General wintergreen is an even bolder wintergreen flavor. Holding the Skoal and General cans next to each other the General scent is boulder, richer, cleaner and crisper. Placed in the lip (I dip these portions as well as upper deck them) the flavor is crisper with an excellent burn. I can spit or not, swallow or not, the nic hit is much smoother than Skoal and there is not the bitter (and slightly chemical) aftertaste like I get with the Bandits. After about 20 - 30 minutes the mint flavor melts away and I get undertones of salt, licorice (subtle) and a very natural, delicious tobacco flavor. I will never buy another can of Bandits again. If anyone out there knows a General or Scandinavian product that gets this close to Copenhagen LC, Cope Southern Blend or Cope Black, please let me know! Merry Christmas to Chad, Nash & the whole Snubie community!

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    Replies
    1. Fake fridge? Must not be plugged in.
      Here in Dallas were I purchase the the fridge is real and provides a cool pack at purchase. The General website say this is to insure freshness. Great Reveiw.....

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    2. Fake fridge? Must not be plugged in.
      Here in Dallas were I purchase the the fridge is real and provides a cool pack at purchase. The General website say this is to insure freshness. Great Reveiw.....

      Delete