‘Renewal of EU tobacco policy needed after FDA decision’

The Europan Union should learn from the United States and adapt EU tobacco policy to reflect the real health risks of various tobacco products sold, argues EU parliamentarian Jörgen Warborn (M) in Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper. 

In October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified snus as a tobacco product with modified risk, allowing Swedish Match for the first time to market snus in the US as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.

Warborn (M) welcomed the decision his opinion piece, expressing his hopes that the American decision would go on to influence EU tobacco policy.

“When the world’s largest and most important economy takes such a clear position in favour of Swedish snus, it will have an effect elsewhere in the world and new markets will emerge for Swedish products,” he writes.

The difference in health risks

In June this year, the Supreme Federal Court of Switzerland ruled there were no grounds for banning the sale of snus, adding to the number of countries now confirming the difference in health risks between cigarettes and snus and adapting their regulations accordingly.

Warborn says he would like such an approach to also be taken in the EU, where snus is banned even though there is no research showing that snus leads to serious illnesses such as cancer.

“If the French and Italians used snus instead of smoking, we could save thousands of lives in the EU every year. Sweden has the lowest proportion of smokers in the whole of Europe and significantly fewer cases of tobacco-related diseases than in the rest of the EU. 

“A big reason for this is snus. Of course, snus is not a health product, but its importance in keeping ill health rates down is well-established and impossible to ignore. We have known this for a long time in Sweden. The same thing has been understood in the USA, and the EU should also realise this.” 

‘Totally crazy’ EU tobacco policy 

Snusforumet interviewed Warborn ahead of EU parliamentary elections in May. He said that he thought that the EU’s tobacco policy was “Totally crazy“. He also wrote in his article that he continued to fight for Swedish snus within the EU.

“The free internal market is at the heart of EU cooperation and its basic idea is that free and fair competition should prevail,” he wrote. 

“Trade in Europe was not intended to be arbitrarily decided by bureaucrats, but in the snus issue it is clear that this is the case. I believe that a change is needed in the EU’s tobacco policy. The focus must be on minimizing the harmful effects of tobacco.”