Chemical profile of two types of oral snuff tobacco

Food Chem Toxicol. 2002 Nov;40(11):1699-703. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(02)00134-5.


The chemical-analytical profile of two US brands of oral moist snuff was determined. These two brands were bought in five geographical locations (NY, MA, CO, CA and KY in the US). They were mixed thoroughly to yield representative samples. Brand A had a pH of 5.84 and nicotine content of 0.42%, while brand B had a pH of 7.99 and nicotine content of 2.73%. At pH 5.84, only 1% of the nicotine is present as a free base while 59% of nicotine is present in unprotonated form at pH 7.99. It is the unprotonated form of nicotine that is most readily absorbed through the mucous membrane in the oral cavity. Snuff A contained also significantly lower levels of moisture, nitrate, nitrite and tobacco-specific nitrosamines than snuff B. The University of Kentucky reference snuff 1S3 was analyzed as an external control sample. These two snuff brands are currently being assayed with rats in a short-term and in long-term bioassays to test the concept that the tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines are major contributors to the carcinogenic activity of oral snuff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Nitrates / analysis
  • Nitrites / analysis
  • Nitrosamines / analysis
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / chemistry*
  • United States


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Nitrosamines
  • Nicotine