New and traditional smokeless tobacco: comparison of toxicant and carcinogen levels

Nicotine Tob Res. 2008 Dec;10(12):1773-82. doi: 10.1080/14622200802443544.


Declining cigarette use and spreading bans on smoking in public places in the United States are encouraging the U.S. cigarette industry to turn to another tobacco category, smokeless tobacco products. Currently, a number of new brands are being test marketed, including Taboka, Marlboro Snus, Camel Snus, and Skoal Dry. We report here levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), alkaloids, anions, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and volatile aldehydes in these products, and compare them to the most popular traditional moist snuff brands. Total TSNAs averaged 1.97 microg/g dry weight tobacco in Taboka, Marlboro Snus, and Camel Snus, 4.54 microg/g tobacco in Skoal Dry, and 7.42 microg/g tobacco in traditional brands. The amounts of unprotonated nicotine averaged 0.961 mg/g tobacco in Taboka, Marlboro Snus, and Skoal Dry, 7.22 mg/g tobacco in Camel Snus, and 7.57 mg/g tobacco in traditional brands. Levels of minor tobacco alkaloids were relatively high in Taboka, Marlboro Snus, and Skoal Dry, as compared to other products analyzed here. Levels of nitrite and nitrate in new U.S. smokeless tobacco products and the Swedish snus General were lower than those in the other products. Remarkably high levels of chloride and some PAH were observed in the traditional moist snuff. Crotonaldehyde levels were about five times higher in Taboka and Marlboro Snus than in traditional products. The large variation in the levels of some toxicants and carcinogens analyzed here indicates that more effort is required from the U.S. tobacco industry to further reduce their amounts in new and traditional smokeless tobacco products.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens / analysis*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Smoke / analysis
  • Tobacco Industry
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / chemistry*
  • United States


  • Carcinogens
  • Nitrosamines
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Smoke
  • Nicotine