Federal regulators are seeking public comment on smokeless tobacco maker Swedish Match's request to certify its General-branded pouches of tobacco as less harmful than cigarettes.

The company, whose North American headquarters is in Richmond, Virginia, in June requested the Food and Drug Administration approve the snus (pronounced "snoose") products as "modified risk."

Snus are teabag-like pouches that users stick between their cheek and gum. They are popular in Scandinavian countries.

A 2009 law gives the FDA authority to evaluate tobacco products for their health risks and lets the agency approve ones that could be marketed as safer than others.

The FDA said Tuesday it will take comments for 180 days. It is the first time the agency has accepted a modified risk tobacco product application.