VIDEO | This is the 'snus' that teenagers snort until they throw up: We bought it at a record deal, even though it's sold illegally

A pack of snus

Extra-strength nicotine sachets, also called "snus" are sold in prominent stores and gas stations in the cigarette section, although it is not legal. "Snus" is becoming a trend among teenagers, and it carries with it the danger of nicotine poisoning and high addiction.

It may seem that in this video we regularly bought "snus" bags that are legally released for sale in this country. But that is not true, at least according to the answer we received from the Ministry of Economy. The store is located in the strict city core, on one of the busiest thoroughfares in the center of Skopje.

"Snus" is displayed there together with cigarettes. The price is about 300 denars, and there is a skull on the packaging. The brand name is "Killa" and the flavor says blueberry. The seller told us that there are also citrus, menthol and other flavors. He gave us a fiscal bill for "snus". It was a seemingly ordinary sale.

But when we sent the photo of the product together with questions about whether the importer has permission to sell this product to the Ministry of Economy, we received an answer from there that the product is being sold illegally. In the center of Skopje. In one of the most visible traffics. It is also available at gas stations.

"In the specific case, the company NOVA GRUP DOO Skopje is not at all registered in the Register of producers, exporters and importers maintained by the Ministry of Economy. This means that they are not allowed to import these products, which according to the law are treated as related tobacco products. In order to be able to import tobacco products, the company is obliged to register the trademark of the tobacco product in the Ministry of Economy in accordance with Article 51 of the Law on Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Related Products. Until now, the company has not registered a trademark of a tobacco product for import and sale", the public relations service of the Ministry of Economy answered us.

The State Market Inspectorate has the responsibility to respond to such illegal sales of "snus".

"If the company sells tobacco products without possessing a decision for registration in the register of trademarks of tobacco products, the Market Inspectorate will issue a decision prohibiting the sale of tobacco products and related products and will temporarily confiscate them if the importer is not registered in the register of stamps", the Ministry of Economy told us.

We received silence from the Customs Administration. How did these products enter the border? Why didn't anyone notice them until now, even though they were "stinging eyes" in the most frequented tobacco shops and gas stations? Is the business silent that has been the subject of debates in the European Union since 1992 because "snus" contains a lot of nicotine and is sold in packages and with flavors that mimic harmlessness and "candy"?

"Snus" has become a trend among teenagers, doctors warn about the dangers

"Sloboden Pechat" talked to several teenagers who confirm that snus is nothing new for them and is a very popular product. But the danger of snus according to toxicologists is that it can lead to nicotine poisoning. It is a nicotine product in round boxes packed in small bags. These sachets contain a very large amount of nicotine and lead to high addiction. Just one bag of the ones we bought for the purposes of this text has 13 milligrams of nicotine. For comparison, one cigarette has 0.7 milligrams of nicotine. So, just one sachet is equivalent to 15 regular slim cigarettes.

The places where snus is sold are extremely open and regular which gives the impression that it is a legal product. There is even a printed declaration in the Macedonian language, which is mandatory for all products on sale. The product is exported from Denmark. We are making attempts to contact the importing company from Macedonia, but so far without success.

Doctor Niko Bećarovski, a toxicologist and a long-time doctor from the Toxicology Clinic of the "Mother Teresa" Clinical Center, tells "Sloboden Pechat" that no one has ever come to the hospital to say that they consumed "snus" and that they are sick from it, which is not the case. means it didn't happen. According to Dr. Bećarovski, the consequences of this product are manifested as classic symptoms of nicotine poisoning.

-Laboratory and toxicological tests cannot detect it. Are there such cases? It probably has, given that it is in all the surrounding states. It is about concentrated nicotine that sticks to the teeth. The symptoms would be headaches, vomiting and a kind of nicotine poisoning, given that it is a matter of high amounts of nicotine, followed by dizziness, malaise and ringing in the ears, Dr. Bećarovski told "Sloboden Pechat".

We also spoke with a teenage girl who testified how her peers react to using this product, which is relatively cheap, around 300 denars, and very accessible, even though the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to minors has been banned in this country for a long time and it is punishable by law.

- The bag is placed on the teeth and baked. They are divided by strength. One pack is equivalent to several cigarettes, it can be as much as 20 cigarettes. And some people put 6 at a time and they feel sick, they feel very dizzy. I have been in a situation where we go out to have him. He may faint, it depends on how it works for him. For everyone who tries, the first time is the worst and then they get used to it. They say that their muscles relax and their body relaxes. And at school the teachers asked us if we used it and we said "no". I first saw this trend in June or July last year, says our interlocutor, a student at a Skopje high school.

The Ministry of the Interior has so far received no reports of abuse of snus and we have not received any answers about the legality of requesting it from Customs. The work of the Ministry of Interior is focused on narcotic drugs, and "snus" is not in that category. From October 15 of last year to March 15 of this year, the Ministry of the Interior discovered 7 juvenile perpetrators of the crime of "unauthorized production and placing on the market of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors" and four perpetrators of the crime of "facilitating the use of narcotic drugs" mostly on techno parties and techno festivals, in parks, etc.

"The Ministry of Internal Affairs acts preventively in all areas, and special attention is paid to educational institutions. We act preventively in schools with trainings and lectures on the harm and consequences that arise from the use of narcotics. Minors are a vulnerable category and in some cases when minors are caught in possession or enjoyment, a parent must be called for them and the presence of an inspector for juvenile delinquency is mandatory. Then the judge for juvenile delinquency and the public prosecutor for juvenile delinquency must be notified, they say.

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