Background: Similar to the debate around e-cigarettes, an increase in snus use among Norwegian adolescents has prompted debate on whether flavour options in snus should be limited. To this end, we compared use of flavoured snus among snus users with different smoking status.
Methods: Questions about flavoured snus use were included in an online omnibus study conducted from 2015 to 2019 (N = 65,445) that included 16,295 ever snus users (aged 15+). Current snus users (N = 9783) were asked "Do you usually use snus that has a flavouring (liquorice, mint, wintergreen, etc.)? Adjusted predicted probabilities and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated from a logistic regression model.
Results: Less than 25% of the snus users reported never having smoked. The overall probability of using flavoured snus was .45 (95% CI .44-.46), highest among daily (.51, 95% CI .47-.54) and former daily smokers (.50, 95% CI .48-.52), and lowest among never (.41, 95% CI .39-.43) and occasional smokers without any prior history of daily smoking (.41, 95% CI .38-.44). Use of flavoured products was higher among female snus users (p = .67, 95% CI .65-.69) compared to males (p = .35, 95% CI .34-.36), highest among the youngest age group, 15-24 years (p = .58, 95% CI .56-.60) and decreased with increasing age.
Conclusion: Regulation that would ban or limit flavoured snus use may affect smokers-an at risk population-more than never smokers. The health authorities should be mindful of the real-world complexity governing potential harms and benefits of flavour restrictions on snus. A further assessment of flavour limitations should acknowledge that flavoured snus products also function as alternatives to cigarettes.
Keywords: Flavour; Regulation; Smokeless tobacco; Snus; Tobacco.