Snus increasingly popular among schoolchildren

Regular snus is made with tobacco. Nicotine snus, however, is a new, tobaccoless version of the product.
Regular snus is made with tobacco. Nicotine snus, however, is a new, tobaccoless version of the product. Source: AFP/Scanpix

Smoking behind the school between classes has become a thing of the past. What has become more popular among schoolchildren today is snus, which can be used during class, is difficult for onlookers to detect, and which doesn't give off a telltale smell. Teacher and police experience indicates that snus is spreading first and foremost among 7th, 8th and 9th graders.

Girls who came to stock up around midday on Thursday confirmed that snus is very popular among young people. Boys are more likely to use snus containing tobacco, whose sale is prohibited in Estonia and which is brought in from abroad, while girls are more likely to use tobacco-free snus, which will be available at R-Kiosk convenience stores and e-cigarette stores beginning this summer.

Students go through around two snus sachets per day. The girls' claims were also backed up by a survey conducted among schoolchildren.

"Nearly half of the people I know use snus," one respondent wrote. "It's especially popular among younger people. Nobody uses e-cigarettes anymore; snus and regular smokes are more popular."

"Sometimes it seems like parents are a little naive about all of these things," said Lilian Aun, vice-principal at Tallinn's Jakob Westholm High School. "Of course it isn't that easy to spot, but a sharp-eyed teacher and parent does notice."

Police experience in turn confirms those of teachers as well. Tallinn youth police officer Saskia Dmitrijeva said that the use of snus is a very covert activity, and it is difficult to spot. "Police have often found snus packages during operations, however," she added.

Social pedagogues from several Tallinn schools have called on schools to address the topic with their children. Following an amendment that entered into force last fall, schools have major rights and opportunities to tackle this problem, Dmitrijeva said.

"They have the right to search children's backpacks, clothes and even clothes in their lockers, and if they find anything illegal or banned, they can confiscate the item and should certainly inform their parents," the police officer said.

The possession and use of all tobacco and tobacco-like products is illegal under the age of 18. Nonetheless, the law does not provide for the punishment of underage children using snus, and Dmitrijeva found that the punishment thereof would not be reasonable either.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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