Snuff

Snuff is a product made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves. It is an example of smokeless tobacco. It originated in the Americas and was in common use in Europe by the 17th century. It is generally insufflated (inhaled) or "snuffed" through the nose either directly from the fingers or by using specially made "snuffing" devices. There is a general misconception associated with "the snuff sniff." The nicotine in snuff is absorbed through the mucus membrane, so a pinch of snuff only needs to get into the nose. Most snuffers agree that if the snuff gets into the sinuses, one is inhaling too strongly. Snuff is usually scented or flavoured. Typical flavours are floral, mentholated (also called 'medicated'), fruit, and spice, either pure or in blends. Other common flavours include camphor, cinnamon, rose and spearmint. Modern flavours include Bourbon, cherry, Cola and whisky. Snuff comes in a range of texture and moistness, from very fine to coarse, and from toast (very dry) to very moist. Often drier snuffs are ground finer. There are also a range of tobacco-free snuffs, such as Poschl's Weiss, made from glucose powder or herbs. Whilst strictly speaking these are not snuffs because they contain no tobacco, they are an alternative for those who wish to avoid nicotine, or for 'cutting' a strong snuff to an acceptable strength. Snuff taking by the native peoples of Haiti was observed by a Spanish monk named Ramon Pane on Columbus' second journey to the Americas from 1493 until 1496. In 1561 Jean Nicot, the French ambassador in Lisbon, Portugal, sent snuff to Catherine de' Medici to treat her son's persistent migraines. Her belief in its curative properties helped to popularise snuff among the elite. By the 17th century some prominent objectors to snuff taking arose. Pope Urban VIII threatened to excommuni ate snuff takers. In Russia in 1643, Tsar Michael instituted the punishment of removing of the nose of those who used snuff. Despite this, use persisted elsewhere; King Louis XIII of France was a devout snufftaker, and by 1638, snuff use had been reported to be spreading in China. By the 18th century, snuff had become the tobacco product of choice among the elite, prominent users including Napoleon, King George III's wife Queen Charlotte, and Pope Benedict XIII. The taking of snuff helped to distinguish the elite members of society from the common populace, which generally smoked its tobacco. It was also during the 18th century that an English doctor, John Hill, warned of the overuse of snuff, causing vulnerability to nasal cancers. The John Hill report is quoted to this day in some medical reports. Snuff's image as an aristocratic luxury attracted the first U.S. federal tax on tobacco, created in 1794. In 18th-century Britain, the Gentlewoman's Magazine advised readers with ailing sight to use the correct type of Portuguese snuff, "whereby many eminent people had cured themselves so that they could read without spectacles after having used them for many years."[citation needed] In certain areas of Africa, snuff reached native Africans before white Europeans did. A fictional representation of this is in Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, where the Igbo villagers are regular snuff-takers long before they ever encounter the first British missionaries. In some African countries, such as South Africa and Nigeria, snuff is still popular with the older generation, though its use is slowly declining, with cigarette smoking becoming the dominant form of tobacco use. In recent years, because of the ban on smoking in pubs in most European Union countries, the practice of snuff taking has increased somewhat.