She is 25 years old and has been using nicotine since her early teens. Amanda Seguel started as a smoker, but soon switched to vejps and nicotine pouches.
"Right now I don't actually use nicotine at all. But I don't want to say that it will be forever. I like snus and I could never smoke again. But putting pressure on yourself only leads to anxiety. Then it's impossible to quit," she says when we meet on Hisingen in Gothenburg.
- UIn the spring of 2023, the Road studs with Convenience Stores Sweden News to depict Swedish nicotine consumption, beyond the statistics. This is a slightly modified version of the original report that was published in CSS News. -
She grew up in the early 2000s in Uddevalla. And she comes from a smoking family, she says. Mum and dad smoke. So does her grandmother. Grandad has his pipe.
"I have really grown up with smoking. My sister used to smoke but vejpar now instead. My mum and dad were careful not to let me join them when they smoked, but the smell of someone who smoked is still there. For me, it has meant security, a home odour, if you like."
Dancing all over the world
Amanda's father came to Sweden from Chile in the 1980s, fleeing the right-wing regime and Augusto Pinochet. Mum is Swedish, but Amanda also has roots in Finland. She describes herself as "not Chilean enough and not Swedish enough" to fit into any particular group. But that she is something of a cosmopolitan becomes clear the longer we talk. Despite her young age of 25, she has seen a lot of the world. As a dedicated dancer, drummer and dresser at the samba association Abunda in Gothenburg, she has travelled a lot.
"We have performances and gigs quite often in periods. So there have been trips to everything from France to South Africa. It's quite intense, but very fun" says Amanda Seguel when we meet on a sunny summer afternoon in Gothenburg.
"It must taste good"
"She took her first puff on a cigarette when she was 13," she says.
"At least I think it was at that age. There was probably a bit of peer pressure involved, but still not so remarkable. I was used to people smoking around me and I thought: Why not try it? But at the same time I thought: Why should I smoke? So it took a while before I "started smoking for real".
Taste was important, she recalls. Regular cigarettes didn't appeal at all.
"No, I didn't like that at all. If I were to smoke, it would be good. So it had to be mint cigarettes. Then it was ok." she says.
Started smoking more abroad
She recalls that teenage smoking was never particularly intense. The festive smoking gradually turned into everyday smoking, but it was not many cigarettes a day. "She was studying aesthetics at secondary school in Uddevalla and smoking was more of a social activity than a direct need," she says.
"I probably smoked the most when I was between 16 and 20. It was part of social life, at parties and in smoking areas. But it escalated when I was 21 and went to South Korea to study for a year. I also visited Japan at that time. Over there, they smoked like crazy. The smoking rooms in the pubs were always full. In the clubs it was free to smoke everywhere. Even I, who like the smell of smoke and perfume, found it unpleasant. It was a little better if you smoked yourself, but still."
Quit smoking abruptly
After a night of partying with the taekwondo club in South Korea, "a night of too much alcohol" and heavy smoking, Amanda's life came to an end.
'I felt so bad and suddenly I could only associate smoking with feeling bad. Then it wasn't good anymore. I tried several times afterwards and it didn't give me any pleasure anymore. I stopped smoking altogether, mostly for that reason.
"A bit too much Banana Ice"
Now she has not smoked for almost three years. But she still wants nicotine in her life, she says. Something to relieve the stress, either at work or in her free time. She has tried most things, including vejpa, mostly disposable cigarettes, which she initially saw as a bit daft.
"There are many in my generation who think so, I think. A vejp? How old are you, can't you handle a real cigarette? is something you can hear at parties. But then there are those who bring seven different disposable cigars with all sorts of flavours to try during the evening. I got a bit curious about what it was all about," she says, noting that there was a bit "too much banana ice" for a while.
"Yes, my God. I sat with my little ecig pen the whole time. It was way too much for me. Then I put it down, at least on weekdays."
Nicotine pouches fit the job
Now she prefers nicotine pouches. "the white snuff". Provided it's the right strength and tastes good.
'I started working in a restaurant and it became a convenient way to get some peace and quiet at work. It must not spin too much. And it shouldn't show too much under the lip. I have learnt what works for me."
We talk about nicotine addiction and how she thinks about it. Is it a problem to need a stimulant to feel calm?
"I am quite calm when it comes to nicotine. It has been around me all my life and I haven't thought much about it. I've got rid of the really dangerous stuff, smoking, and now only the nicotine is left. When I'm ready to give it up, I'll get on with it."
Go nicotine-free - for now
And at the moment, it turns out, she doesn't use nicotine at all.
"I am on sick leave due to exhaustion and am very dizzy all the time. It's simply not nice to get that "spin" when everything is already spinning anyway. I'd rather refrain. I have some idea that I can continue like that, but I know that life has a tendency to come in between, so nothing is definite."
She believes that the motivation to quit must come from within, not from things she cannot control. Like sick leave.
"No, if there's one thing I know, it's that quitting doesn't work unless I do it on my own terms. Nicotine has a calming effect on me, and when life gets busy, I know it's nice to have something under my lip. I'm not really an addictive personality. If I decide to quit something, I can do it. I've got rid of the smoke and it feels good. The other things may come later." she says and tells us that she has a stock of cans "lying around" at home in her apartment at Vågmästareplatsen in Gothenburg.
Understand that it seems scary
When we meet, there is a fairly intense debate about the 'new' nicotine products and how young people are using them at an early age. There is talk of a 'nicotine trap' and that young people do not understand the risks of the products. She belongs to the generation of young women who are increasingly starting to use nicotine pouches. And she understands that it can seem a bit scary.
"These days I rarely see people smoking. It's much more common for someone to have a small vejp in their hand, or an almost invisible puff under their lip. I can understand why people worry about it. At the same time, absolutely NOBODY can have missed that white snus contains nicotine and that it can be harmful to the body. I am such that I actually read up a bit so that I know what I am getting into. But of course, not everyone does - in the same way that some people accept the terms and conditions of an app after just scrolling quickly down to the ok button."
"Many would be smokers otherwise"
She believes that young people have realised that smoking is no longer sustainable. It smells and looks too much in a world where adults are always around. Especially at school.
"And if a teacher catches you, they call the parents and take the parcel. And then you have to go and get a new one, over and over again. With snus and e-cigs, it's easier to be left alone. I mean, who sees you snusing in class? Some pouches are so thin that you can't see when you use them. I think a lot of people who snuff or vejpar are those who would otherwise be smokers. But of course there will be quite a lot of people who start using snus straight away. It may not be perfect, but basically I see this as the "new" way to smoke".
'We have learnt to use nicotine in Sweden'
She believes that both e-cigarettes and the new white snus will play an increasingly important role in reducing smoking, not only in Sweden.
"But it's hard for French smokers to get the message. They think that snus is deadly. And maybe that's not so strange. I've met French people who see themselves as "very nicotine addicted" - a bit macho, perhaps. Then they put something with very high nicotine strength under their lips, vomit and faint in the toilet and have to go to hospital." she laughs "We here in Sweden have learnt that - not to exaggerate but to find what works instead."
"Take it as it comes"
We take the photos for the report in the shade of a restaurant. In the autumn, she hopes to study at university. Her goal is to leave the restaurant world and become a student counsellor. What happens with the snus and nicotine, she will have to see.
"Right now, there will be nothing for a while. I might take a vejp at a party, if I feel like it. But I know that if I put too much pressure on myself, it just leads to a lot of anxiety. And then I can't stop. I think it's better to take it as it comes," she says, strolling towards her apartment on Hisingen in a warm summer Gothenburg.