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What is snus? Previously used by Jamie Vardy and banned amid cancer links, the stimulant flooding the Premier League
© Getty Vardy on England duty
Premier League footballers like Jamie Vardy are turning to a banned stimulant with links to cancer to give them the edge over their rivals, it’s claimed.
Snus, which Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy has previously admitted taking, is a form of smokeless tobacco containing extremely high levels of nicotine.
It comes in small, tea bag-like pouches, which are placed under the top lip, releasing almost three times as much nicotine as a cigarette. It is sold as a safer alternative to smoking.
The stimulant, said by some experts to aid alertness, power and strength, was banned from sale across most of Europe, including Britain, in 1992 after its use was linked to cancer.
However, an investigation by Sportsmail has found that the use of snus is extremely prevalent among footballers, many of whom play in the Premier League.
Jamie Vardy was pictured carrying a tin of snus at Euro 2016
The Mail, citing a “well-placed source”, claim one professional player, known to be a heavy snus user, has been treated for gum cancer.
Managers have reportedly told the newspaper that players sometimes take it during matches.
One club fines players found in possession of the substance £10,000, while another docks two weeks’ wages.
At Leicester’s King Power Stadium, the newspaper claims to have discovered snus debris, including discarded pouches, in the dugout after a match.
Snus, a Swedish-made product, is available to buy on the internet at around £7.99.
© Action Images via Reuters Vardy has told how he started using snus when he moved to Leicester
Although its sale is banned in the UK, it is not illegal to possess or use it.
On social media, Premier League stars including Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles, follow accounts claiming to source the stimulant.
There is no suggestion either player uses snus.
Vardy, who was spotted carrying a small circular tin containing snus pouches at Euro 2016 in France, has admitted using it.
In his 2016 autobiography, From Nowhere, he said: “Doing everything by the book has never been my style. When I joined Leicester I started using snus, which are nicotine patches you place against your gums, for 10 minutes or so.
“I used to have the odd f*g on a night out at Fleetwood, but one of the lads introduced me to snus when I signed for Leicester and I found they helped me chill out.
“A lot more footballers use them than people realise, and some lads even play with them in during matches.”
Snus, which is pronounced ‘snooze’ and comes in different flavours, is sold under names such as Siberia Strong and Thunder Ultra.
A tin has around 18 pouches, each of which contains 27.3mg of nicotine – a cigarette has just 10mg.
Popular in Sweden, where it’s made and is still sold, snus is thought to have been introduced to English players by Scandinavian players in the 1990s.
© David Price Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang follows a social media account that claims to source snus
Some experts claim it can aid performance, but there are question marks over its effects.
Dr Toby Mundel, who carried out an investigation into the effects of taking nicotine while playing sport, claims it improves “alertness, concentration, strength and power,” reports the Mail.
A Championship manager told Sportsmail its use is “rife”.
He added: “Next time you’re watching a game, look at how many players look like they have something behind their top lips. That’s a tell-tale sign.”
John Bramhall, deputy chief executive of the PFA, told the Mail : “It is something that we are aware of and will monitor. We will be looking to see if there is a need to educate members on the potential risks involved in using this substance.’
Colin Bland, chief executive of the Sporting Chance Clinic which deals with addiction, said they were aware its use was “on the rise”.
© Serena Taylor Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles also has social media links to ‘snus accounts’
The FA say they warn players of the dangers of using drugs.
A Leicester City spokesman said: “Our players comply fully with all anti-doping regulations. We offer regular advice on a variety of topics to maintain their health and seek up-to-date research to ensure such advice is well-founded.”
When approached by the Mail, Newcastle and Arsenal declined to comment.
Read more about Jamie Vardy below