Skip to content

Snuff and snus in Sweden

Tobacco usage then spread rapidly throughout Europe during the mid 1500's and reach Sweden in the end of 1500s. The earliest mention of tobacco in Sweden datesfrom 1601, when Custom Office in Stockholm noted the importation of tobacco and pipes into the country.

Snuff was manufactured in numerous locations throghout Sweden in the 1700's, including Gothenburg, Eskilstuna and Norrköping, and by the end of the century annal production in Sweden had reached 58.4 tonnes.

The French Revolution in 1789 changed everything and marked the beginning of the end for the strict class society that had been regarded as an expression of a universal, natural law. And with this change, the use of snuff came to an abrupt end - opening a snuffbox in wrong circles could have dire consequences. Tobacco usage became a political stance.

But at the same time in Sweden, a new tobacco product had already emerged - the wet Snus. It consisted of dried tobacco leaves, salt, water, and pot ash, and was placed between the gum and the lip.

We cannot exacly date the Swedish wet snus appeared, as it was elaborated by farmers - and few of their stories has been recorded in history. But, as a consequence of the French Revolution together with the Industrial Revolution, by the 1800s, the wet Snus was here to stay and became one of the biggest industries and product in Sweden.

One of the reasons why this new Snus increased in popularty in the early 1800's have had to do with changing living and working conditions for the majority of the Swedish people. In a society in whch people live in the countryside and set their own working hours, they can decide for themselves when, where and how they will take a break, making pipes and chewing tobacco the obvious indulgence of choice.

But then, when agriculture was no longre able to offer job opportunites, and the cities with the new industries was needing as many hands as possible, people headed there for work, and of course, new indulgences. Snus became an everyday luxury for the men of the working class in an otherwise fairly hard life. The big advantage of snus was that not only could it be enjoyed while one was working - it was also cheap.

Snus was bought in various diffrent tyes of paper packaging, such as a ocne or a cartridge, and then transferred to the individual's own snus box. The common man usually made his own box from simple materials, but put a great deal of effort into the execution, making as luxiourius as possible. When two met and introduced themselves, or simply greeted one another, it was common to extend one's snus box and offer a pinch of snus. The Swedish word for a 'pinch' - 'pris' - came from the French and meant 'token'. Commonly inscripted on Snuff and Snus boxes was "Tag en pris" - which translates too; "Take a pinch".

snus - a timeline