Lung cancer and emphysema have scared you away from smoking? You like your teeth and jaw how they are? Nicotine patches and gum just won't satisfy the cravings? Fear not, oh addict, for there is another alternative. I'm talkin' 'bout snuff.
Feeding the nicotine monkey, 17th-century style
About two centuries after Sir Walt
began importing the devil's own weed
from the New World
, it became the fashion for British gentlemen
finely-ground tobacco. The habit became widespread throughout Europe
in the 18th century, but fell out of common practice by the end of the 19th. The snuff might be plain tobacco, or it might be scented with attar
of roses, clove
oil, or jasmine
. It was usually carried in a snuffbox
, which, like the snuff, could be either plain or fancy. Some were decorated with ivory inlay
s, elaborate paintings, or even gold and precious jewels. Snuff-takers would also carry a grater
to grind their snuff finely, much as a cocaine
addict will carry a razor blade.
What? Cocaine? Yes, the habits are very similar, though snuff-takers didn't use mirrors, jewel cases, credit cards, razor blades, and straws or rolled-up currency. They might snort a pinch from their snuffboxes, or they might carry around a glass or ivory vial with a small spoon attached to the lid. Otherwise, the habits are much the same; both involve snorting stimulants, both are highly addictive, and both eventually destroy the septum and sinuses.
Does anyone still do this? Well, my own mother used to use the stuff back in grad school. Since she was at the time viciously addicted to nicotine, and smoking and chewing tobacco were both strictly forbidden in class, she would take snuff from one of the aforementioned ivory vials, causing everyone to think she had a raging cocaine habit. I myself have done the stuff, once, and found it unpleasant; while the nicotine rush is certainly nice, it's almost as irritating to the nose as sniffing ground pepper.
Where to get it
There's not much demand for the stuff nowadays, so you'll have to do a bit of digging. Brit-noders may have more luck, since it seems to be a bit more popular on the other side of the pond
. Otherwise, try your local tobacconist
or head shop
, or you might try making your own with some dry tobacco and a coffee
or pepper grinder
. Happy snorting, fellow addict.
"snuff" Encyclopædia Britannica
Constructive criticism is welcome, as always. Thanks to wick for the inspiration.