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A pile of naswar

Naswār (Pashto: نسوار, Cyrillic script: насва́р), also called nās (ناس; на́с) or nasvay (نسوای; насвай), is a moist, powdered tobacco dip consumed mostly in Afghanistan and surrounding countries. Naswar is stuffed in the floor of the mouth under the lower lip, or inside the cheek, for extended periods of time, usually for 15 to 30 minutes. It is similar to dipping tobacco and snus.

Packets of Naswar


Naswar was introduced into Western Europe by a Spanish monk named Ramon Pane after Columbus' second voyage to the Americas during 1493-1496.[1] In 1561, Jean Nicot, the French ambassador in Lisbon, Portugal, sent naswar to Catherine de' Medici to treat her son's persistent migraine.[2]

Use in South and Central Asia[edit]

The green powder form is used most frequently. It is made by pouring water into a cement-lined cavity, to which slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and air-cured, sun-dried, powdered tobacco is added. Indigo is added to the mixture to impart color,[3] and juniper ash may be added as flavoring.[citation needed]

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.[4]

In 2011 naswar was included in the list of narcotic and psychoactive substances to be controlled in Kazakhstan.[5]

Use in Russia and Eastern Europe[edit]

On the territory of Russia, naswar is not a traditional product, but it gained popularity especially among teenagers. It was sold in the markets of Moscow[6] and in other cities of the Urals, Volga, and other regions of the country. Its trade was usually conducted on trays with spices.[6] 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.[7] 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 in Russia.[8]

On the use of naswar Belarusian physicians reported and send patient's medical information to law enforcement agencies.[9] In Estonia, naswar is being distributed to discothèques.[10]


There are two forms of naswar; powder, and a paste cake style mixed with lime. It has a very pungent and powerful smell, resembling that of a fresh bale of coastal hay,[citation needed] and has a subtle flavor as it mixes with the saliva. The nicotine effect can occur within 5 minutes after intake, producing a slight burning sensation on the inner lip and tongue.


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.

Nas: tobacco, ash, cotton or sesame oil,[11] water, and sometimes gum.

Naswar: tobacco, slaked lime, indigo, cardamom, oil, menthol, water.


In November 2006 an editorial in the newspaper Daily Times in Pakistan caused some controversy over its allegedly biased representations of Pashtun predilection for naswar.[12]

Side effects[edit]

The major side effect of using naswar is addiction, and it becomes difficult to get rid of it. It is also increasingly known that naswar often causes oral and throat cancer.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bourne, G. E.: Columbus, Ramon Pane, and the Beginnings of American Anthropology (1906), Kessinger Publishing, 2003, page 5
  2. ^ McKenna, T.: Food of the Gods - The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge - A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, Bantam Books, 1993, page 199
  3. ^ Gupta, Prakash C.; Hamner, James E.; Murti, P. R. (1992). Control of Tobacco-related Cancers and Other Diseases: Proceedings of an International Symposium, January 15-19, 1990, TIFR, Bombay. Prakash C. Gupta. ISBN 9780195629613.
  4. ^ "В Туркмении запретили производить, продавать и жевать насвай - ЦентрАзия". Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  5. ^ "ИА КазахЗерно". Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Унесённые пленом : Попавшие в плен военнослужащие считаются пропавшими без вести - - Агентство Федеральных Расследований". Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  7. ^ Гранд Табак. "Насвай - Словарь терминов - glossary - Гранд Табак". Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Автоматизированная система обеспечения законодательной деятельности". Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  9. ^ Medvestnik Archived 2013-07-22 at the Wayback Machine / Газета «Медицинский вестник»
  10. ^ "Газета "Молодежь Эстонии" 10.09.99 Кухня наркоманов становится богаче Инесса КОЛЛОМ". Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  11. ^ US Department of Health and Human Services. Health consequences of using smokeless tobacco: a report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General. Bethesda, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1986.
  12. ^ "EDITORIAL: Hasba Bill beats the WP Bill hands down!". Daily Times. 15 November 2006. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  13. ^ Saleem, Saima; Azhar, Abid; Hameed, Abdul; Khan, Mansoor Ahmed; Abbasi, Zubair Ahmed; Qureshi, Navid Rashid; Ajmal, Muhammad (2013). "P53 (Pro72Arg) polymorphism associated with the risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma in gutka, niswar and manpuri addicted patients of Pakistan". Oral Oncology. 49 (8): 818–23. doi:10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.04.004. PMID 23683469.

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