‘Political’ snus ban prevents EU harm reduction strategy

The European Court of Justice is set to rule this autumn on the ban on snus, which snus manufacturer Swedish Match argues discriminates against snus because the EU allows all other tobacco products, including ‘modern’ tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes.

“Innovation has been one of the main arguments against allowing snus in the internal market. That circumstance has now changed,” lawyers for Swedish Match argued at a hearing at the European Court of Justice, according to an article published in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

Patrik Hildingsson, communications director at Swedish Match, said the EU’s ban was political and not based on science. 

“Politics trumps law, science, and common sense,”  he told the newspaper. “But we will not give up the fight to challenge the cigarette monopoly in the EU.” 

Atakan Befrits, a member of the secretariat of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations (INNCO), told the newspaper that the EU should allow less harmful alternatives to cigarettes such as snus. 

The ban, he said, could even be seen as harmful, given the hundreds of thousands of Europeans who die each year from lung cancer.

Befrits regrets that the EU lags behind in the introduction of a tobacco policy based on the principle of harm reduction.

“Is the idea that we shouldn’t have any harm-reducing products in the EU at all, because the only thing we are willing to work towards is an absolutely perfect result?” he said.