Snus Commission slams EU’s Beating Cancer Plan

EU policymakers are guilty of spreading “fake news” about the true causes of cancer in their recently released Beating Cancer Plan, a Swedish group has claimed.

In a sharply worded letter to the European Commission, Sweden’s Snus Commission argues that the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan “does not focus on what really causes cancer” by failing to distinguish between cigarettes and other forms of less harmful nicotine consumption.

“To beat cancer, the EU should make smoking of traditional cigarettes more restricted but give present day smokers an alternative, less harmful way of getting their daily nicotine,” the letter reads.

The Snus Commission, an independent commission that produces reports about Swedish snus, argues that access to less harmful nicotine products such as snus or nicotine pouches, can help smokers shift away from deadly cigarettes.

The Swedish Experience

The authors reference the situation in the UK, where a number of public health agencies have adopted the principle of harm reduction.

The Snus Commission also points to the “Swedish Experience” with tobacco as further evidence for their claims that less harmful nicotine alternatives can help cut smoking rates.

Sweden currently boasts one of the lowest smoking rates in the EU, thanks in part to the widespread use of snus instead of cigarettes. Even though men in Sweden use tobacco to roughly the same extent as men in other EU countries, Sweden has the EU’s lowest tobacco-related mortality among men.

‘You don’t get cancer from snus’

While turning to combustible cigarettes to satisfy one’s craving for nicotine will result in a shorter lifespan for at least half of users, using snus “does not shorten the life of the user”.

“You do not get cancer from snus,” the authors write, citing the 2016 Global Burden of Disease study published in the Lancet.

The Snus Commission also accuses policymakers in Brussels of choosing ideology over science in their Beating Cancer Plan, which calls for a “tobacco-free” generation by 2040 without distinguishing between smoking and other forms of nicotine consumption. 

“If the goal is to get rid of all nicotine use in the Union, that should be said and backed up by evidence, not hidden behind the just fight against traditional cigarettes,” the group writes.

“To beat cancer in the EU, the authorities should be truthful and refrain from fake news, attack the main causes of cancer and allow less harmful sources of nicotine to be used so that the rates of smoking really are lowered quickly.”