The need for regulation of carcinogenic N-nitrosamines in oral snuff

Food Chem Toxicol. 1993 Jul;31(7):497-501. doi: 10.1016/0278-6915(93)90109-c.


Oral snuff is carcinogenic to humans and laboratory animals. The major carcinogenic agents in snuff are the N-nitrosamines, especially the tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines. During the past decade, a gradual reduction of the levels of carcinogenic N-nitrosamines was observed in the leading snuff brands in the USA and in Sweden. However, in 1990 a newly introduced snuff brand in the USA contained the highest concentration of carcinogenic N-nitrosamines ever to be determined in a commercial tobacco product. The elevated pH and relatively high levels of nitrite in this snuff favoured the formation of N-nitrosamines. 2 yr after the product first appeared, it was replaced by a new preparation of snuff under the same brand name, and, according to chemical analyses, this material would be expected to have about the same carcinogenic potential as the leading snuff products. The interdependence of the formulation and manner of preparation of snuff products with their carcinogenic potential emphasizes the need for regulation and control of the harmful substances in smokeless tobacco, especially in view of the trend of increasing consumption of snuff.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Nicotine / analogs & derivatives
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Sweden
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / chemistry*
  • United States


  • Carcinogens
  • Nitrosamines
  • Nicotine
  • nornicotine