Guide to Smokeless Tobacco

no smoking sign

With smoking bans in place in public places, many tobacco lovers have turned to smokeless alternatives in recent years. Smokeless tobacco, such as snuff, snus and chewing tobacco, offer the user nicotine without the need for lighting up. We take a look at these popular forms of smokeless tobacco, and what each of these options offers.



Snuff is made from a blend of finely ground tobacco. It will be made from high-grade tobacco that has been aged for at least two years. These tobacco leaves will also have been through two fermentation processes to ensure the ground tobacco is flavourful and aromatic.

Snuff was first used in the late 1400s, but became particularly popular during the 18th Century, when this form of tobacco was believed to offer medicinal benefits such as a cure for syphilis!

Over time, thousands of blend variations have been produced, as well as a range of blend styles and techniques. These techniques and blend recipes have long been kept a secret to avoid copying. However, one example of production method can be seen from Samuel Gawith’s Kendal Brown snuff, which sees tobacco leaves ground with seasoned oak and stone pestles that have been used to produce snuff since the 1700s. Oils, such as rose oil or sandalwood, can be added to the blend to create an aromatic experience.

Types of Snuff

There are three main considerations when choosing a type of snuff; the grind, the flavour and the moisture. Snuff can be found in three grades – fine, medium and coarse. Coarse snuff is best for beginners, as fine snuff can offer a particularly intense experience. Likewise, the snuff can be either moist, medium or dry when it comes to the moisture level. A moist snuff will offer a more gentle experience than the intensity provided by a dry snuff. When it comes to flavour, you will be spoiled for choice. Many major snuff manufacturers will offer hundreds of different flavours to choose from. Common flavours include coffee, vanilla, mint, rose and fruit.

How to Take Snuff

As the name may suggest, snuff tobacco is sniffed into the nostril. It is important that snuff should not be inhaled into the throat or sinuses, but gently sniffed so that it enters the nose. With a pinch of snuff on your finger, hand or snuff accessory, the snuff should be intaken into the nostril. For first-time snuff users, it is very common to sneeze when first attempting to take snuff. It is more common for dried snuffs to cause sneezing, so if you want to get started with snuff, it is best to choose a moist and more coarse snuff.

snus portions


A moistened tobacco that is placed under the upper lip, snus was created in Sweden during the 18th Century as a variation of snuff. There are many types of snus available; however, there are two main forms – loose snus and portion snus. Loose snus is a moistened tobacco powder that you shape with your fingers into the desired size, before popping under your lip. Portion snus is far more popular nowadays, as these prepackaged portions of snus come in a little teabag-like pouch that provides a more discreet, convenient and tidy experience than loose snus. Portion snus is available as original or white, with the latter offering a milder taste than the traditional option.

types of tobacco

Chewing Tobacco

Unlike other forms of smokeless tobacco which are often pre-ground, chewing tobacco remains un-ground, with the user manually grinding the tobacco with their teeth to release the nicotine and flavours. Chewing tobacco typically results in unwanted juices from the tobacco mixing with saliva, and this is usually spat out.

Chewing is actually one of the oldest methods used for tobacco consumption and was used by Indigenous Americans a long time before European arrivals in the Americas. Chewing tobacco is now predominantly used in the American Southeast, although can be seen to be enjoyed around the world as a form of smokeless tobacco.

Types of Chewing Tobacco

Chewing tobacco comes in a number of varieties, with the most common being loose leaf, twist, plug and chew bags. Loose-leaf chewing tobacco is the most common type of chewing tobacco used and consists of shredded tobacco leaf, which is typically sweetened. Plug tobacco is tobacco that has been pressed into a solid block of tobacco. Pieces are sliced or bitten off the plug and chewed. Twist tobacco comes in a rope shape, with tobacco twisted together. Chew bags are also an option, with snus-like portion bags that are placed under the upper lip. Chewing bags differ to snus in that the chewing bag contains finely cut tobacco, whereas snus uses finely ground tobacco; making snus stronger with more nicotine.

dipping tobacco being placed in the mouth

Other Forms of Smokeless Tobacco

While snuff, snus and chewing tobacco are amongst the most common smokeless tobaccos used, there are many different options available around the world. Dipping tobacco, for example, is a moistened tobacco that sits in the mouth between the lip and gum. While similar to snus, dipping tobacco requires the user to spit, as excess saliva is produced, which is unpleasant to swallow when mixed with the tobacco. Naswar is a powdered form of snuff enjoyed in South Asia. Another way of enjoying tobacco smoke-free can be found in tobacco gum, whereas dissolvable tobacco offers a similar option to chewing tobacco, with the benefit of it dissolving over time.

If you’d like to switch to a smokeless form of tobacco, then why not check out our range of chewing tobacco UK available here at Havana House?

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