Snus gets snuffed out in the Old Country

The European Court of Justice recommended continuing a twelve-year ban on Snus in the European Union until a permanent law can take effect.  What is Snus you ask?  Snus is a form of snuff tobacco placed in the upper lip made in Sweden.  The expression “Stiff upper lip” does not derive from Snus, though stereotypically Scandinavians have a reputation for being reserved.

Snus’ American country cousin is often referred to as Dip.  Unlike Dip, there is no spitting involved with Snus.  Dip is placed in the lower lip and involves the heavy production of brown bile-like saliva that must be expunged frequently.  The two tobacco products are linked though and some American Dip brands bare these links.  There’s Copenhagen, for example, named after the capitol of the Swedes Southern brethren the Danes.  Then there’s Skoal, which most likely derives from the common Scandinavian pub chant for cheers “Skol!”  Legend has it that Skol came about when the Vikings drank wine out of the skulls of their dead enemies in celebration of a mighty conquest.  Funny the Vikings never actually wore horns on their helmets; that’s just a 20th Century invention to portray a greater menace.

How can a government body ban a substance that is harmless to everyone except the user?  It’s even biodegradable for the weary environmentalist.  Why not ban cigarettes and the second hand smoke they cause.  Well rest assured we will never have to worry about a complete ban on cigarettes thanks to powerful companies like Phillip Morris.

What are the Swedes to do?  Certainly the peace loving Swedes won’t attack continental Europe.  History proves they had great success when they were Vikings.  However, more recently, well in the last 500 years their military prowess has waned.  For example, in the 15th Century as part of an overly detailed war across Europe involving Catholics and Protestants, the Swedes attempted to invade the city of Prague.  Shamefully the mighty Swedish hordes were repelled by a gutsy group of students and academics.  It was the original Revenge of the Nerds.  The Kingdom of Sweden hung its head in shame.  Maybe that’s why they chose neutrality.

If you love freedom, whether you’re American or Zimbabwean (aren’t they affectionately called Zimbos?), well maybe Zimbabwe is a bad example, then I urge you to write, call or email the European Court of Justice ( expressing your concern and outrage.  Repeal the Court’s recommendation and condemn any thought of a permanent ban.  Let the Europeans put wads of brown leaves in their upper lip for their own pleasure and enjoyment before it’s too late.  Let’s help the Swedes regain their cultural right to export Snus to the continent.  I say tear down those barriers and let Snus mingle on the displays of stores across Europe with its smoky relatives.  If we don’t act now then you and your habits could be next.

Shouldn’t people have the right to become addicted to a crappy drug (nicotine) and rot their gums on their own accord?  There’s no second hand smoke.  If no one else gets hurt, then who cares?  Surely the free loving world of the West wouldn’t want to turn into a place like Singapore where it’s illegal to spit or chew gum.  What would Erasmus think or Patrick Henry for that matter?

What’s next will people across the World suddenly be expected to stop drinking Coke because it has too much sugar and caffeine, rots your gut, stains badly and turns into a sticky gluey mess.  Surely this would go too far, but who knows.  It appears the soda industry employs a much better group of lobbyists than the Snus industry.

By Wynne Boelt

Author’s note: This originally appeared on Purple Prose in 2004.

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