News; Mar 17, 2003 CET

One in five snus consumers is a woman

The number of Swedish women who use snus is increasing, having doubled over the past five years. More than 60 percent are former smokers.

There is nothing new about the combination of women and snus. On the contrary; in the 18th century the use of snuff was a widespread practice among both women and men, particularly in the finer salons. Ladies-in-waiting at the court of King Gustav III may well have indulged.

Today, of the nearly one million Swedes who use snus, one in five is a woman. Moreover, the ranks of female snus consumers are swelling rapidly. In 1996 there were 80,000 women snus users, and by 2001 the number had grown to 150,000 - nearly doubling over a five-year period.

THE AVERAGE SNUS-USING woman is 36 years old, well-educated (82 percent have completed an upper secondary school or university-level program, compared with the Swedish national average of 70 percent), and is relatively well-paid (SEK 194,000 per year, compared with the average figure of SEK 163,000 for women in Sweden).

There are several reasons why women choose snus. One reason, of course, is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a smoker, now that virtually all public areas are no-smoking zones. In the workplace, many smokers are forced to use spartan smoking rooms, while some employers even rationalize smoking rooms out of existence. But this naturally applies to both sexes.

The fact that an increasing number of women are choosing snus may be due to the availability of portion-packaged snus and semi-dry mini-pouches for those who prefer not to have a large wad in their mouth. The main factor, however, is the awareness that any health effects attributable to snus are only a fraction of those caused by cigarettes. Sixty-one percent of women snus consumers are former smokers, and snus is an effective means of giving up smoking. During 2001, the Swedish Cancer Society and the pharmaceuticals company Pharmacia conducted a survey among people who had given up smoking. It revealed that 33 percent had succeeded in quitting smoking with the aid of snus and 17 percent by using nicotine-containing preparations.

Note: Unless stated otherwise, the sources used were the results from various surveys carried out by the opinion-survey company Temo.