Snuff, Snus or Dip? Guide to Smokeless Tobacco Products

Smokeless tobacco label covers an extensive range of tobacco products that are not burned and smoked. Instead, the tobacco leaves are processed and used through a variety of other methods, including sniffing, chewing and placing between the teeth and gums.

Smokeless tobacco products are widely used across the world, with countless variations.

This guide will introduce you to some of the most well-known smokeless tobacco products, covering the main differences between each, as well as UK availability.

Why do people use smokeless tobacco?

As an alternative to cigarettes, cigars and other smoking products, smokeless tobacco comes in a wide variety of flavours, textures and strengths, delivering nicotine without many of the effects of burning and inhaling.

It is generally agreed that smokeless tobacco products carry fewer health hazards than cigarettes, and we are not currently aware of any direct links between smokeless tobacco and lung cancer; however, smokeless tobacco is not free of health risks and can promote nasal, oral and other major problems.

Where is smokeless tobacco most popular?

Smokeless tobacco products are used in most countries globally, however South and Eastern Asia, Scandinavia and some Central African countries see the widest use.

What is snuff?

Snuff is a smokeless tobacco product that is processed into a powder and inhaled into the front of the nose by the user. It comes in a wide assortment of strengths, flavours and consistencies.

Nasal snuff has seen a growth in popularity in recent years, particularly with young people pursuing smoke free substitutes.

Snuff can be taken in a number of different ways, including pinching with fingers, placing on the back of your hand (or anatomical snuffbox), or by using a snuff bullet.

For more information about snuff, read our Beginner's Guide to Snuff Tobacco

Can I buy snuff in the UK?

Yes, snuff tobacco products are widely available in the UK, both online and at your local tobacconist. Along with chewing tobacco, it is one of the only smokeless tobacco products that are legal to sell in the UK currently.

What is snus?

Snus, which may be confused with snuff due to the similar name and powdery texture, is a completely different smokeless tobacco product. Pronounced ‘snoose’, rhyming with ‘loose’, snus users usually place the moist powder under their upper lip for extended periods to allow the flavour and nicotine to be slowly released.

Is snus available in the UK?

It is not illegal to be in possession of snus tobacco, nor is it illegal to use it; however, it has been banned from sale in the EU since 1992. There is an ongoing international debate over whether or not the sale of snus within the EU should be legalised; however, for now it is unavailable to buy in UK tobacconists or online.

What is dip?

Dipping tobacco, commonly known as ‘dip’, is another variety of smokeless tobacco product that comes finely ground or shredded, with added moisture. Sometimes known as ‘rub’, dipping tobacco is similar to Snus in that it is also placed between your lip and gums – this is known as ‘dipping’.

What is the difference between dip and snus?

Unlike snus, which typically involves the upper lip, dipping tobacco is usually used with the lower one. Another key difference is the tendency for dipping tobacco users to produce large amounts of saliva while using. Due to the discomfort and potential irritation that a saliva-dip mixture can cause, users will usually spit the excess moisture out.

Is dip available in the UK?

Like snus, dipping tobacco is also unavailable to buy in the UK due to the EU-wide retail ban put in place in 1992. The only exemption to this law is Sweden, due to the traditionally high dip usage among its population compared with other EU countries. This exemption also includes snus.

What is chewing tobacco?

As the name suggests, chewing tobacco is a kind of smokeless tobacco product that is chewed by the user. Chewing is required to release flavour and nicotine from the leaves, which, unlike snuff, snus and dipping tobacco, are not processed or ground up for sale.

Similar to dipping tobacco, chewing tobacco promotes excess saliva, which must be spat out by the user do to potential risks and general unpleasantness of swallowing.

Chewing tobacco is one of the oldest known popular methods of tobacco use and dates back to indigenous people of the Americas.

What types of chewing tobacco are there?

Chewing tobacco is available in a number of varieties, each with their own unique properties. ‘Loose leaf’ chewing tobacco includes shredded leaves with a sticky texture as a result of added sweeteners.

Other types include ‘plug’ chewing tobacco, which usually comes unsweetened. ‘Twist’ chewing tobacco comes in a rope-like twist, while ‘chew bags’ are small portions of chewing tobacco contained within a small bag.

Is chewing tobacco available in the UK?

Chewing tobacco and nasal snuff are currently the only two varieties of smokeless tobacco that are available on sale in the UK. Like snuff, chewing tobacco can be purchased online or at a tobacconist.

Key differences between snuff, snus, dip and chewing tobacco

ProductGeneral method of useRequires spitting?Available to buy in UK?
SnuffInhaled into front of noseNo
SnusHeld between upper lip and gumsNo
DipHeld between lower lip and gumsYes
Chewing TobaccoChewedYes

Smokeless tobacco can seem complicated at first, with so many varieties to be found. Every smokeless tobacco user will likely have an opinion on which they prefer, and we encourage personal research into which, if any products you feel are more appealing – providing they are available to you where you live.

Useful Links

Thanks for reading. We hope this guide has been useful and informative. At Wilsons & Co, we have specialised in snuff since the 18th century. Our knowledge in this area is second to none. If you would like to learn more about nasal snuff, there are some useful links you can explore below.

About Wilsons & Co.

Sharrow Mills snuff production history

Wilsons & Co. snuff varieties

A brief history of snuff

The fascinating history of Wilsons & Co.