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Breaking an Industry Taboo...The Nicotine Content of Smokeless Products

Assessing the Nicotine Content of Smokeless Tobacco Products. Published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (Volume 125, pages 590-594, May 1994) by Ken Tilashalski, Brad Rodu and Charles Mayfield.

Although the nicotine content of cigarettes had been extensively studied and published, no similar comprehensive study of smokeless tobacco had been performed. We analyzed the nicotine content of eleven popular brands of smokeless tobacco, including representative products of moist snuff, plug, and loose-leaf chewing tobacco. The results showed a nicotine range of 0.6 to 3.4% of the smokeless tobacco dry weight. In general, moist snuff has the highest nicotine content and loose-leaf chewing tobacco has the lowest, with plug tobacco occupying an intermediate position. The low nicotine content of loose leaf tobacco may reflect additives such as sugar, which are not generally found in moist snuff products. The variability in nicotine content may affect usage patterns of smokeless tobacco products, which should be taken into consideration when studying usage as a variable for clinical adverse effects.

In this paper we broke a tobacco industry publishing taboo, because this was the first study to report nicotine concentration in tobacco products by brand name. As a result, this research received wide coverage from The New York Times, The Atlanta Constitution, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, CNN and many other news organizations.

Here is a list of the tobacco products studied and their nicotine concentrations:

Nicotine Concentration of Smokeless Tobacco Products

Tobacco Product


Nicotine Concentration (%)

Skoal W'green

Moist Snuff


Skoal Straight

Moist Snuff



Moist Snuff



Moist Snuff


Skoal Bandits

SLT Pouch


Cannon Ball

Plug Tobacco


Day's Work

Plug Tobacco



Chewing Tobacco


Red Man

Chewing Tobacco



Chewing Tobacco



Moist Snuff


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