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New tobacco product alert: Camel Snus is on the loose

New tobacco product alert: Camel Snus is on the loose

Imagine my surprise to unwrap my Sunday paper one day last month and find inside a clever advertising pamphlet and a card good for a free tin of Camel Snus (pronounced "snoose"), R.J. Reynolds' new flavored spitless chewing tobacco. And Reynolds is not alone: Phillip Morris is also testing snus products. Never heard of it? Camel Snus was recently test marketed in Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, and the test has now spread to eight cities.

Camel Snus is a dime-sized pouch of powdered chew tobacco, packaged in tins of 20. The tobacco is pasteurized, not fermented, and the user does not have to spit. That's all we know, since tobacco companies are not required to list the ingredients in their products.

Camel Snus is so "cool" that it is refrigerated "so it's fresh when you buy it," but oddly does not have to be refrigerated once opened. It seems to be a form of snuff (chewed instead of sniffed) and is especially popular in Sweden where it originated. It can be used on airplanes and in other nonsmoking areas, "pleasure for wherever," as the pamphlet says.

The first two test markets—Portland and Austin—are known as hip, young, nonsmoking towns, so it doesn't seem to me that the Camel Snus advertising is aimed at people who already use tobacco, to convince them to switch, but rather at nonsmokers, to get them to start.

This is all so outrageous I could spit (or not)! Your comments are welcome. Please send to: JSkinner@cmp.com.

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