Joseph Hart 8 August 2023


Norway has a smoking prevalence rate of 14%. Compared to the EU average of 23%, these figures are promising. It’s long been suggested that the availability of Snus is one of the big reasons for these relatively low smoking rates in Nordic countries.

A new study in Discover: Social Science and Health has added further fuel to this fire. Using data from the Norwegian Directorate for Health, the authors showed that:

a) Snus was the most commonly used smoking cessation aid

b) Snus was the most successful way for Norwegians to stop smoking  

Let’s dive a little further into the research.

Snus in Norway

Snus started to take off in Norway in the 1990s. These days, it’s a well-established product in the Norwegian market, and it’s used by about 25% of men and 10% of women. 

A 2014 study by the same authors — Ingeborg Lund and Karl Erik Lund — titled, How Has the Availability of Snus Influenced Cigarette Smoking in Norway?, has shown a strong correlation between increased Snus use and lower smoking prevalence rates.

In that study, between 1985 and 2013, two significant trends stuck out:

• Smoking rates dropped from 50% to 21%

• Snus use rose from 9% to 33%

In the intervening decade, smoking decreased by a further 7%, with snus use declining by 8%. Of course, vaping accounts for a portion of these lowering numbers.

Giving up cigarettes

The study offers some interesting data about giving up cigarettes. For starters, it suggests that each year 40% of smokers try to kick the habit. However, only 1 in 3 are successful. 

The authors cite three primary categories of smoking cessation aid. They are:

Counselling: Face-to-face advice, books, and apps.

Medicinal drugs: Varenicline and bupropion.

• Nicotine replacement therapy (NRTs): Alternative tobacco or nicotine products, like Snus and e-cigarettes.

One interesting element of the report shows that men and women choose different smoking aids. While most men (48%) and women (46%) used no smoking aid in their efforts to stop using cigarettes, there are notable disparities when it comes to alternatives.

For example:

• 21% of men used Snus to quit, while women were at 12%

• Mobile apps were the choice for 15% of women, with men at only 6%

• Electronic cigarettes were at 11% for men and 13% for women

Snus was the most effective cessation aid

Overall, Snus was the most common cessation aid. And, as the study suggests, it was at least twice as effective as all the other products at helping people quit.

An open can of snus

What conclusions can we take from the study?

The results of the study aren’t exactly shocking. Previous research has shown that Snus is an effective cessation aid. However, there are two important points that we can take from the work.

Nicotine pouches can bridge that gap between men and women.

If Snus is the most effective way to stop smoking, so it’s a shame that women are less interested in the product than men. However, as we’ve seen in Sweden, nicotine pouches are more attractive to women. Access to nicotine pouches is important for women who want to stop smoking.

Access to cessation aids

Almost half of all people who unsuccessfully tried to stop didn’t use any NRTs or other smoking aids. Instead, they just tried to stop. This approach was particularly pronounced in lower socioeconomic status individuals.

The main reasons they didn’t use cessation aids were:

a) a lack of access to NRTs

b) a belief that determinate willpower was the most important part of overcoming psychological dependence on cigarettes

More access and better public messaging could help these individuals access products that will aid their journey toward smoking cessation.