// Overseas travel blog
While reading about Norway, I discovered that Snus, a variant of snuff and a product similar to dipping tobacco in North America, is still sold throughout the country. Reports indicate that it has recently overtaken cigarettes in terms of popularity. Unlike its American counterpart, Snus is sold finely ground, moist, and wrapped in neat little sachets that you simply pop between your gum and lip to experience a little minty-flavoured hit. Or so I read.
‘Hmm, interesting’ I - non-smoker - thought. ‘Well, when in Rome.’
With half an hour to kill before boarding a bus , I made a quick stop at the supermarket to pick up a container of said product and two small beers, which will save you a good deal of money in Norway, in comparison with than buying them at a bar. Like an underage teen acquiring alcohol through a stranger, I was clueless and was likely sold the Snus equivalent of Midori, when all I really wanted was vodka.
Once the bus had delivered me to the train station, I jumped on my train and settled into my window seat, put my phone on to charge, and took out the newly purchased little package. It was at once cute, but ugly. The tin was a dirty khaki colour thanks to plain packaging laws recently introduced in Norway. I opened the lid and took out a little white bag, noting that it almost looked like a mini tea-bag, and examined this much-hyped minty Snus. After rolling it around between my fingertips, I put the package up to my mouth, then popped it between my upper gum and lip, and then waited.
Once some saliva had dampened the package, the flavour started to emerge. It was a tingly, sharp peppermint flavoured with muddy tannins. I waited some more. Suddenly, the flavour seemed to explode from the bag, and I felt the need to swallow. As it went down, I got the uncomfortable feeling of gulping abrasive, minty pine needles. Next came the waterbrash. It was becoming unbearably strong. After only a minute I decided that the best remedy was to get rid of the cause, so I carefully removed the little package, which was now a dirty tea colour and put it into some plastic wrap.
Despite this, the water-brash just kept coming until it got to a point where I started feeling like I was about to vomit. I dug desperately around my backpack for a plastic bag, and surveyed the surroundings to see how many people would be witnessing me hurling into a bag on a train. There were enough for me to be concerned, and the company included children. I grappled for water and threw two huge mouthfuls down my throat which made it feel marginally better.
After a dicey 30 seconds, the water-brash began to ease. I sat back in my chair now a little more relaxed. I followed through with some more water, and eventually after several more minutes, the desire to vomit had subsided enough to know I wasn’t going to be that person being sick on public transport. I ate a chocolate to rid my mouth of the taste, and chased that with some pleasant minty-flavoured gum.
After another ten minutes I felt a little alert, which I can only imagine was the delayed effect of nicotine absorbed via the buccal route. Thank god for those five-and-a-half years of tertiary pharmacology training which enabled me to make the observation. In layman’s terms: totally not worth it. When in Rome, just say no.