In Sweden, more women smoke cigarettes than men, but a public smoking ban has led growing numbers of women to begin using ’snus’ smokeless tobacco, Bloomberg reported March 10.
National studies show that daily snus use among women rose to 4 percent in 2007, up from 0.6 percent in 1988 and 1989. One-fifth of Sweden’s 1.2 million snus users are female, tobacco industry leader Swedish Match AB said. About 240 million cans of snus were sold in Scandinavia in 2008, with a retail value of more $870 million.
“We’re seeing more and more women using snus as a substitute for cigarettes,” said Lars Rutqvist, head of scientific affairs for Swedish Match. “Parallel to that, we see a decrease in smoking prevalence rates.”
Snus is pasteurized tobacco that comes in a pouch that is placed under the upper lip. The European Union (EU) has banned snus in most of its member states over health concerns; a EU committee report last year found snus to be addictive and a potential cause of pancreatic cancer. Sweden received an exemption from the ban when it joined the EU in 1995.
Smaller snus pouches have been marketed for women to mitigate the upper-lib bulge created when using the product, but most Swedish women still prefer the traditional size. “When the trend started, women bought the smaller portions, but now most everyone uses the regular size,” said Lina Hellgren, 25, proprietor of a convenience store in Stockholm. Hellgren said that the number of women buying snus in the last two years has been “tremendous.”
Snus is sold at convenience stores, bars, and supermarkets in Sweden, where the legal consumption age is 18.