To study changes in adolescent snus use from 1981 to 2003, the effects of the total snus sales ban (1995) and snus acquisition.
Biennial postal surveys in 1981–2003.
Setting and participants
Entire Finland; 12‐, 14‐, 16‐, and 18‐year‐olds (n = 73 946; 3105−8390 per year).
Main outcome measures
Snus use (experimental, daily/occasionally), snus acquisition (2001, 2003).
Snus experimentation grew in popularity before the total sales ban in 16‐ and 18‐year‐old boys and after the ban in all age and sex groups. A decrease was seen between 2001 and 2003, except for 18‐year‐old boys. Daily/occasional use mainly followed the same pattern in boys while in girls the daily/occasional use was rare and no significant changes were observed. In 2003, boys experimented with snus more often than girls (12‐year‐olds 1% v 0%, 14‐year‐olds 9% v 4%, 16‐year‐olds 30% v 12%, 18‐year‐olds 44% v 18%). Hardly any girls used snus daily/occasionally, but 1% of 14‐year‐old boys, 7% of 16‐year‐olds, and 9% of 18‐year‐olds did. Of daily/occasional users, 84% acquired snus from friends or acquaintances, 55% from tourist trips to neighbouring countries (Estonia, Sweden), and 7% through sport teams; 24% obtained it from under‐the‐counter sources. For experimenters, the corresponding figures were 79%, 18%, 0.3%, and 5%.
The total sales ban did not stop snus use; instead, the increase continued after the ban. Friends who travel to neighbouring countries act as go‐betweens reselling snus. Snus is used even by the youngest adolescents, thus contributing to the nicotine dependence process.