Snus in the EU
Tobacco for oral use, except those intended to be smoked or chewed, has been banned in the EU since 1992. As Swedish snus is neither smoked nor chewed, it is prohibited. Upon Sweden’s entry into the EU 1995, the country was granted a permanent exemption from the ban on snus.
Cigarettes and other types of traditional smokefree tobacco products, including Asian/African types, chewing tobacco and nasal snuff, are sold legally within the EU. The Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37/EC is currently being revised by the European Commission. The European Commission presented its proposal revising the Tobacco Products Directive in late December, 2012. While the proposal does not include an alternative for snus to be made commercially available in EU markets outside of Sweden, it seeks, among other things, stricter regulation of the content of tobacco products, including limitations on the type of flavors one may add to them. Swedish snus is by tradition flavored and the availability of flavors has made the development of GOTHIATEK® possible. The proposal is now being reviewed by the European Parliament and the governments of each member state. This is a process which can last a long time and much of its contents can be changed before a finished directive is implemented. Hence, the final outcome and time of adoption is therefore difficult to predict.
The Commission’s proposal comes amid a period of political upheaval which saw the resignation and replacement of the EU Health Commissioner in an influence-peddling scandal reported to the Commission by Swedish Match. This is now part of a judicial process in Malta in which Swedish Match is not involved besides the fact that Swedish Match is committed to cooperate with full transparency and disclosure with the Maltese police authorities.
Swedish Match is of the opinion that:
- The current EU ban on Swedish snus lacks a justified reasoning and is both discriminatory and disproportionate.
- The current EU ban on Swedish snus is a violation of the free trade principle and distorts the function of the internal market.
- The ban on snus denies adult European smokers access to a traditional and viable non-combustible tobacco alternative that is scientifically well documented to have significantly lower negative health effect.
- All smokeless tobacco products should be subject to consistent and competition neutral product regulation based on product quality and consumer protection.