Say 'Screw It' to Smoke Breaks with Snus

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If you live in the Dallas area, and have ever drunkenly signed up for a free pack of smokes at a bar, chances are you’ve recently gotten coupons from Marlboro or Camel for free packs of “snus.”

Snus (pronounced “snoose” like “loose”) isn’t “dip,” like the more common snuff and chewing tobacco. Because there’s no spitting involved, it’s been called a discreet and safer alternative to smoking. As cities continue to tighten restrictions on when and where you can smoke, it may be a viable solution to a “nic fit.”

Snus is packaged in small bags, similar to tea bags, and fit neatly in your top lip. Several flavors – like mint and spice -- are currently marketed in the U.S. Each bag lasts around 30 to 45 minutes. (Much longer than a cigarette and smoke-free. )

Dan Bach, an assignment editor for CW33 in Dallas, is a new snus user. (He got those coupons in the mail, too.) Bach’s main reason for switching to snus is to get the nicotine buzz while in a smoke-free workplace. “Snus will be that go-to source for nicotine cravings as the anti-smoking movement grows and taxes increase,” he says. “At least these will kill me slower."

Snus use has been attributed to an increase in pancreatic cancer according to one study, but the lack of heat and the production through fermentation rather than pasteurization keeps the oral and lung cancer at bay, according to other research. But scientists and doctors agree snus is a safer alternative to smoking for those around the user.

“Simply put, there’s not a lot to complain about with snus,” says Derrick Masterson, 26. “I don’t smell like smoke anymore, and the biggest thing is it’s invisible. Even when I smile no one sees the pouch.”

Plus, as long as the cost doesn't skyrocket, buying snus is a better deal than cigarettes, he adds. “If I can get 20 pouches of snus for roughly the same amount as a pack of smokes and it’s going to last me four times as long, I’m going to do it.”

While snus has been popular in Sweden for 30 years, it's still very early in the game for the U.S. market. Dallas was one of the test markets for snus earlier this year, and the product has become a common site in clubs throughout the metroplex.

However you spin it, I haven’t had a cigarette in two months. And thanks to the marketing, I have yet to actually purchase a tin of snus (which runs about as much as a pack of cigarettes). More research needs to be done on the effects of snus, but as we continue to see more clubs, restaurants and bars close their doors to smokers, the small bags of snus may be a way for smokers to have their nicotine and party, too. -- Darren Burgfeld

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