Tobacco: smoke-free alternatives

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Related tags: Nicotine, Tobacco

There are more ways of enjoying tobacco than setting fire to it and breathing in the smoke - a peculiar practice in itself, when you come to think...

There are more ways of enjoying tobacco than setting fire to it and breathing in the smoke - a peculiar practice in itself, when you come to think about it.

Sticking it up your nose seems no less strange, but at least it's legal in public places, a point that snuff manufacturers have seized on enthusiastically.

In fact, the smoking ban has already inspired the launch of a new snuff brand. Zuka has been seeded in more than 200 of London's coolest bars and clubs in a bid to bring snuff back into fashion.To overcome the general messiness associated with snuff, Zuka comes in a 'bullet' containing about 60 shots which you can tastefully insert in your nostril - none of the back-of-the-hand stuff required. It comes in a cigarette-type packet complete with a hanky with printed instructions.

One problem with marketing snuff is that it's still tobacco and therefore subject to stringent restrictions on promotion. But Zuka has got around that by hiring actors to go into bars and take snuff - sparking curiosity and encouraging others to try it.21st century snuff

"Above all this is about bringing snuff into the 21st century and making it available to a totally new generation," says Zuka's marketing director Michael Coyle. "It's an option that simply won't have occurred to the majority of smokers. At least this way they can get their nicotine in a socially acceptable way that doesn't require them to stand outside in the rain."One convert is Alex Blundell, who works for Zuka's PR agency.

"I'm a smoker and use it to satisfy my cravings when I'm out in a bar," she says. "It's quite an edgy thing to do and when I started I thought I'd get a lot of flak and be thrown out. But I've had no problems. People are just curious.

"I've actually seen it around a lot, it seems to be coming back in and the Zuka delivery system makes it cleaner and easier."

Another young snuff user is Martin Hicks, who has set up a website to service what he believes will become a growing trend. A survey that he carried out found that 41 per cent of snuff users were aged 18 to 25. "I only found out about snuff a year ago when I wanted to give up smoking - and thanks to snuff I haven't smoked since the ban," he says. "I have to admit it's a bit of a filthy habit but it does take away your craving instantly - the nicotine uptake is immediate.

"People will sneeze the first couple of times they take it, but the trick is not to snort but to sniff gently and just get it into the bottom part of your nose - that's where you get the flavours."And there are plenty of flavoured snuffs to choose from among thousands of product lines in the UK market.

Martin has done a deal with manufacturer McChrystal to offer licensees a selection of snuffs at a discount. He is also compiling a list of pubs and bars that sell snuff, planning to market them on the web. For more information go to

Kicks from a hand gel

Not only can you grind tobacco into a fine powder for sniffing, you can also liquefy it and make it into a gel to rub into your hands.

Nicogel has been on the market for two years and is sold in more than 50 countries as an alternative to smoking. Now the company's John Walters is driving a big push into UK pubs, getting packs into cigarette vending machines and behind bars. One chain of bingo clubs is leaving free sachets of Nicogel in the cash trays of fruit machines in a bid to stop punters breaking play to nip out for a fag.

"There is a massive opportunity for us," says John. "Nicogel is not a quitting aid but a sachet can satisfy a cigarette craving for between 90 minutes and three hours - and there are no marketing restrictions so we can actively promote it in pubs."

Related topics: Legislation

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