Naswār (Pashto: نسوار; Cyrillic script: насва́р), also called nās (ناس; на́с), nāts (ناڅ; на́ц), or nasvay (نسوای; насвай), is a moist, powdered tobacco snuff consumed mostly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan and Ireland. Naswar is stuffed in the floor of the mouth under the lower lip, or inside the cheek, for extended periods of time. It is similar to dipping tobacco and snus.
Naswar was introduced into Western Europe by a Spanish monk named Ramon Pane after Columbus' second voyage to the Americas during 1493-1496. In 1561, Jean Nicot, the French ambassador in Lisbon, Portugal, sent naswar to Catherine de' Medici to treat her son's persistent migraines.
Use in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia
The green powder form is used most frequently. It is made by pouring water into a cement-line cavity, to which lime or juniper is added as flavorings, and then air-cured, sun-dried, powdered tobacco is added. Indigo is added to the mixture to impart color.
Currently, the countries of the region freely sell naswar in the markets, usually on trays with cigarettes and sunflower seeds. The only exception is Turkmenistan, where in 2008 President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow signed a decree banning the production, sale, use, and import of naswar.
Use in Russia and Europe
On the territory of Russia, naswar is not a traditional product, but it gained popularity in recent years especially among teenagers.
Naswar is sold in the markets of Moscow and in other cities of the Urals, Volga, and other regions of the country. Its trade is usually conducted on trays with spices, with naswar being bought as a means of nicotine addiction.
According to the association of tobacco distributors "Grandtabak", in the first half of 2004, Russia's import of naswar or "chewing tobacco" amounted to almost 67 tons (total value of 16,500 US dollars), primarily from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
On 23 February 2013, the Russian State Duma signed a federal law (N 15-ФЗ) which banned both wholesale and retail naswar from 1 June 2013 onward (Part 8 of Article 19 of the Law) in Russia; however, it was never ratified.
There are two forms of naswar; powder, and a paste cake style mixed with lime. A very pungent and powerful smell, yet a subtle flavor as it mixes with the saliva. The nicotine effect can occur within 5 minutes after intake producing a slight burn to the inner lip and tongue.
Naswar has a very distinct smell resembling that of a fresh bale of coastal hay.
Readily available in most Afghan tobacco shops, the average cost for a small 15 gram package is 10 afs (December 2013 exchange rate: 10.00 AFN ).
Sun and heat-dried tobacco leaves, slaked lime, ash from tree bark, and flavoring and coloring agents are mixed together. Water is added and the mixture is rolled into balls.
Naswar: tobacco, slaked lime, indigo, cardamom, oil, menthol, water.
The major side effect of using naswar is addiction, and it becomes difficult to get rid of it. As the lime is added, it is also increasingly known that naswar often causes mouth and throat cancer.
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