# The Swedish Snus portion bags revolutionized the smokeless tobacco industry

## Loose snus was considered soggy and unfresh. But the brilliant idea to put snus in a tea bag changed all that. With the invention of the portion bag, snus use will never be the same as it once was.

Snus has a long tradition in Sweden dating back to the early 18th-century. It is a grind moist steam-pasteurized tobacco whos predecessor was the dry snuff popular among the aristocrats in France. If you are interested in the transition from snuff to snus, you can read more about what snus is and the history of snus on this site.

“Snus deserves a Nobel Prize in medicine"
Lars Dahlgren, CEO Swedish Match, quoted in an article in Dagens Industri 2018-04-04

## The master blender remember

In snuspodden (the snus podcast, see list of references below) the Swedish Match master blender Lars Öberg remembers when snus pouches were introduced on the market. It was convenient with pouches, not everybody likes loose snus. They don’t know how to do and it felt unpleasant. Many who tried loose snus did it only once and never again.

Loose snus is not easy to handle if you never have tried it before. The ease of use of the snus pouch was a contributing factor that spread snus to new consumer groups. Today you can find it in fine conference rooms and board rooms. Many women switched smoking for the new snus pouches, says Lars.

## The time when snus was equal to loose snus

In a clip from Swedish Radio recorded in 1948, the reporter Manne Berggren talks to the 76-year-old barn foreman Algot Karlsson at Aplaryds mansion outside Torsås in Småland, Sweden.

Swedish Radio - A proper pinch of snus 1948

In the clip, Algot Karlsson talks with the reporter about his life-long snus use. Algot began using snus when he was 7 years old, the same age as when he began school. The teacher didn’t mind as he was a snus user himself, according to Algot.

Algot then talks the reporter into trying a pinch of snus “the proper way” without much success. The reporter is quick to spit out the snus, and Alfred remarks that it is a waste of good snus. Alfred also had the habit to save not fully consumed snus in his bootleg for later reuse. “If I put it behind my ear, someone may take it” he explains to the reporter.

The price for a can of snus in 1948 was SEK 0.58 (ca $0.06) according to Alfred in the clip. ## Snus in the 1960s Many from the younger generations in Sweden were smoking in the 60s. If you wanted to be cool, you began to smoke. Snus, on the other hand, was not considered cool. It was something old men in the countryside used. But at the end of the 60s, this came to a turning point. Another factor that made cigarettes popular in the early ’60s was the introduction of the cigarette filter, while snus use was at its record low in the ’60s and ’70s. The start of portions snus later changed the trend to the opposite, ie snus use increased while smoking reduced. From the USA came alarming news that cigarettes and smoking were causing cancer. It was estimated that millions of people had died in smoke-related diseases, and lung cancer was one of them. Massive information campaigns were started in Sweden and the rest of the world. ## Information campaigns against smoking in the USA From one information film: “If you want to do something about air pollution, we suggest you start with your lungs. 100 000 doctors have quit smoking cigarettes. You can too. Have you tried one? Don’t!” Many celebrities publicly announced that they were about to quit smoking. One of the many celebrities that quit smoking was the actor Tony Curtis. AHA Vintage Anti-Smoking PSAs ## Snus was the solution to smoking cessation Many Swedish smokers quit cigarettes and smoking after the 60s with the help of snus. And in the left-wing progressive movement snus was now considered a cool product to use. A manifestation of the increasing popularity for snus was that the state-owned Svenska Tobaks AB (Swedish Tobacco AB) was a sponsor of the Swedish national hockey team. From lying on the death-bed, snus gets a new life, especially after the introduction of portioned snus. And as snus found more and more customers, the demand for further development and new products increased. A development that made snus accessible for larger consumer groups. ## It started as an unusual proposal According to Snuspodden, it was a proposal from a home for the elderly in Göteborg that started the development of snus pouches. Elderly snus-using men in that home wanted to continue using snus, and the nurses had to help them. This was often messy and saggy, and they asked Svenska Tobaks if they could come up with a better solution on using snus for the elderly. ## Who actually invented portion-packed snus? The timeline The idea of package snus in small disposable packaging is not new. Here is the timeline of what I have discovered. • In 1927, the first patent application was filed by K W Nyberg who was granted a patent for his invention the same year. He called his invention “snus tablet” and consisted of snuff packaged in a casing of disinfected gauze. The patent expired without the snus tablet coming out on the market. • In 1965, in an article in the newspaper Expressen published in November 1965, Kurt Börjesson claims that he had invented the portion-packed snuff. He had put snus in a tea bag, according to the newspaper article. He had also applied for a patent for his invention, but no such patent exists. • In October 1967, Svenska Dagbladet had on the first page a report on the Swedish Tobaksbolagets laboratories in Stockholm. The article was about Curt Enzell and his snus portions. You can read the full article below. • In 1969, portion-packed snus, manufactured in the Tobaksbolaget’s factory in Gothenburg, was distributed to a few old-age homes in Gothenburg. The result of this test was encouraging, according to Stig Lindström at the Gothenburg factory. • In 1971, the Tobaksbolaget’s technicians had solved the problem of industrial manufacture of portioned snus. The first machine for the production of Smokeless was ordered in May 1971. • In 1972, the craftsman Jan Olof Johansson from Östra Ljungby applied for a patent on a way to package snus. The right to any patents has been transferred to Tobaksbolaget. ## The inventor of the snus pouches Professor Curt Enzell is not mentioned in the podcast, but he is the man behind the snus portion bags as we know them today. Curt got a job as head of research at Svenska Tobaks AB, current Swedish Match, and started a research lab there in the mid-60s. Professor Enzell was at the time coming from a job at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan in Stockholm (KTH Royal Institute of Technology). Curt got the brilliant idea for snus pouches in 1967 when he used snus to overcome his pipe-smoking cessation. Curt was at the time an inveterate heavy pipe smoker. But he didn’t like loose snus, he thought it was too messy to put snus in his mouth. Instead, he started to experiment with wrapping loose snus in the paper from tea-bags. The fact that coffee and tea were provided for free to the employers by Svenska Tobaks AB maybe made it a bit easier. Over the years Professor Enzell has published more than 700 scientific papers and holds several patents. One of the patents is for the Curzell cigarette filter for reducing the harm of smoking. In 1988 Professor Enzell won the Coresta award in Guangzu in China. This is considered to be the “Nobel Price” in the tobacco industry. The main factor for Professor Enzell switching to snus was to save, or at least prolong, his own life. And a bonus is that many smokers around the world can experience the same benefit from quitting smoking with the help of snus. This is something he is proud of as he looks back on his over 90 years long life. According to WHO 7 million deaths per year can be attributed to smoking and tobacco-related health issues, this costing$2000 billion. It is estimated that 12 000 deaths in Sweden is related to smoking costing SEK 30.5 billion. This according to the National Board of Health and cancer foundations.

In Sweden smoking has gone down from 45% smokers in the 60s down to only 5% of the population smoking today. Much of this can be attributed to smokers using snus to quit the bad habit of smoking. And as more snus brands and more manufacturers arrive on the market, it has helped increase the popularity of snus.

In 2018 Professor Enzell nominated Bengt Wiberg, the inventor of Sting Free Snus, for the Michael Russel Award at the Global Forum on Nicotine, GFN. Professor Enzell being a mentor for Bengt Wiberg on the development of his patent approved Sting Free Snus. He believes that this invention can further help smokers, who find the burning sensation of snus unpleasant and make an easier switch from smoking to snus.

#### Snus in a “tea-bag” during the experiment

From an article in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet October 7, 1967, we can read:

“Professor Enzell started an experiment on himself two weeks ago. The aim was to investigate the role of nicotine in his smoking habits since nobody else was willing to volunteer. He was an inveterate pipe-smoker, but put the pipes away and started with snus instead. He discovered that the nicotine dose in the snus was enough to cover about 60% of his smoking needs. The rest, we have to assume, was attending to the dear pipes themselves. The experiment can have consequences also for other snus users in the kingdom. The professor didn’t like the stickiness of snus put directly into the mouth. So he wrapped the loose snus in a little packet of tea-bag paper. Now he is trying to promote his idea of portion packed snus in some sort of tea-bag edition to the marketing department of Tobaksbolaget (current Swedish Match). The persons using snus will find out if he succeeded.”

### My Tre Ankare review

Well, what can I say? I started with one pouch, and waited, and waited, and waited for…and nothing. I gave up and changed it for a pinch if my home-made snus. After dinner a took two pouches and waited, and waited, and waited. When I after 20 minutes chewed on the two bags I got a notion of tobacco flavor. A crumpled up paper tissue has more flavor in my opinion. I didn’t try with seven, but I don’t think that would have made any difference.

So I can conclude that this was the first and only time I buy Tre Ankare white portions. Other portions I have tried were not white, and therefore had a little more flavor, but not as much as what you get from loose snus.

## List of references

Snuspodden (the Snus podcast) By Swedish Match, Reporter Mattias Bergman
Swedish Match Snus History - YouTube
Snus inspiration - The man who invented the portion snus - YouTube
http://stingfreesnus.com

## Pictures

• Portioned snus License: Creative Commons
• Pictures of the article with Curt Enzell from Svenska Dagbladet 1967 - by Curt Enzell via Bengt Wiberg (Sting Free Snus).
• Tobacco consumption diagram - Bengt Wiberg (Sting Free Snus)
• Picture of Curt Enzell - Bengt Wiberg (Sting Free Snus)