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High levels of tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines and nicotine in Chaini Khaini, a product marketed as snus
  1. Irina Stepanov1,2,
  2. Prakash C Gupta3,
  3. Gauri Dhumal3,
  4. Katrina Yershova1,
  5. William Toscano2,
  6. Dorothy Hatsukami1,
  7. Mark Parascandola4
  1. 1Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3Healis—Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
  4. 4Tobacco Control Research Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Irina Stepanov, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building, 2231 6th Street SE—Room 2-140, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA; stepa011{at}


Introduction Recently, a tobacco product, Chaini Khaini, identified as snus appeared in India. The product marketing emphasises its discreet nature and explicitly claims safety by referring to the existing evidence on Swedish snus. We analysed tobacco-specific nitrosamines and nicotine in 12 samples of Chaini Khaini purchased in 2013 at open markets in India.

Methods Samples were purchased twice: in March 2013 from Mumbai and in November 2013 from Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Chemical constituents were measured by our routine validated methods.

Results Levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines NNN, NNK and NNAL averaged 22.9 (±4.9), 2.6 (±1.0) and 3.1 (±1.5) µg/g tobacco (wet weight), respectively. The levels of NAB, which is normally present in trace levels in tobacco products, ranged from 3.9 to 12.9 µg/g tobacco. Total nicotine levels in all samples averaged 10.0 mg/g tobacco and unprotonated nicotine accounted for an average 95.4% of the total nicotine content.

Conclusions Chaini Khaini, which is labelled as snus and is marketed as a safe alternative to other tobacco products contains very high levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines and biologically available nicotine. Interventions are urgently needed to educate current and potential consumers of this product.

  • Carcinogens
  • Nicotine
  • Harm Reduction
  • Packaging and Labelling

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