Camel Snus: Is it a Noose? I Don’t Know, Go Ask a Moose.

Camel Snus ad

After reading this ad, one thought came to mind: What the heck is snus?

According to Wikipedia, snus (pronounced snoose) is:

…a moist powder tobacco product that is consumed by placing it under the upper lip for extended periods of time. It is a form of snuff that is used in a manner similar to American dipping tobacco, but typically does not result in the need for spitting…The sale of snus is illegal in the European Union, but due to an exemption in Sweden. It is still manufactured and consumed primarily in Sweden and Norway.

The Lancet, a British medical journal, found that smokers were at least 10 times more likely to get lung cancer than snus users. Unlike chewing tobacco, snus apparently isn’t a cause of oral cancer. But while snus users had a lower rate of pancreatic cancer than smokers, they were twice as likely to get pancreatic cancer than people who don’t use tobacco.

I couldn’t find any research linking snus with oral cancer, so the warning at the upper right of this ad is puzzling.

WARNING: THIS PRODUCT MAY CAUSE MOUTH CANCER.

This ad for Camel Snus is attractive. I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide whether the outline of the bottom of the tins is supposed to look like breasts or a bum.

The message here isn’t clear. Many people are going to look at this ad, see the word snus and fail to understand what Camel is selling. Most likely, the headline won’t be clearly understood, either. They’re trying to say that you can use snus in places where cigarettes are prohibited: in cabs, subways, and bars.

They make the mistake of assuming that the reader knows as much about the product as the company who makes it.


By Marc Librescu

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4 responses to “Camel Snus: Is it a Noose? I Don’t Know, Go Ask a Moose.

  1. Fair point about this advertising; but keep in mind that RJ Reynolds is trying to entice current tobacco users to try the product. As such, there is heavy reliance on the CAMEL brand name recognition as the lead entry point, with the teaser point below being secondary.

    • Good point. I wasn’t thinking about brand loyalists, who may be excited about a new product from their favorite cancer provider.

  2. Most of the health research you’ll find has been done on Swedish manufactured snus. In Sweden, snus is regulated as a food product and must fit certain guidelines and also must list its ingredients. It is steam pasteurized, which kills most of the naturally occurring carcinogens in tobacco. The measurable level of cancer causing materials are generally somewhere between 0.4 and 4, whereas american chewing tobacco ranges from about 48 to 160. Camel SNUS is not Swedish snus, and because it is not regulated, no one knows the ingredients, how it is manufactured, nor the levels of carcinogens in it. Snus has helped many people quit smoking very quickly and easily, and true Swedish snus IS a reduced harm product, but we don’t know if Camel SNUS is.

    Also, the normal risk of Pancreatic Cancer is 4 in 100,000. Snus raises that to 8 in 100,000. Yes, twice as many, but still a very small risk. That 8 in 100,000 is also half the risk you’d have smoking. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t try snus, but if you’re a smoker, Swedish snus has been shown to be 98% better for your health than smoking. It’ll also save you a ton of money.