News; May 25, 2009 CET

Column - Business as usual

Few other businesses would survive under the commercial limitations that exist for Swedish Match, much less thrive and prosper.

Henrik OlssonStill, our core product – Swedish snus – continues to build the success story that is Swedish Match, while from an outside perspective it continues to face a formidable barrage of legislation and regulation.

Sponsoring and marketing are heavily restricted, giving limited direct access to the consumers. Display bans, infringements of commercial free speech and to top it off a complete ban on exports to the markets within the European Union, a community founded on the principle of free trade, would make conditions extremely difficult for other companies.

But this is all in a day’s work for the Swedish snus industry – a unique industry, where Swedish Match is rapidly taking on the world of smokefree tobacco with the aim of becoming global leader.

I don’t find it strange that regulatory bodies are focusing their attention on tobacco; I would honestly be rather concerned if they didn’t. Our competitors sell cigarettes, a product with considerable risks. The authorities have obligations to the public; nothing to be taken lightly.

We therefore have an obligation to raise awareness about us, and our impact on society, to combat prejudice with knowledge to ensure that we get fair treatment. And, in return, to always stay true to our values and never compromise with our care for the consumer.

We bridge the gap between those who regulate and those who enjoy the products we offer. We must listen to both sides to completely understand our surroundings and our challenges.

Unpredictability creates uncertainty, which makes it difficult to navigate. It feeds doubt, when we need to generate pride in our brand and our products, which have great potential in the future.

To regulate well is an art form; if it’s done clumsily, it will inevitably crush the wealth-creating forces that benefit everyone. Every piece of considered legislation throws employment, exports and company taxes to be used for the common good of society into the political ring. And we shall always take part in that discussion.

Openness and cooperation with those who regulate our business is necessary, but never a goal in itself. Access to markets is.

We have a scientific case, but more importantly a solid business case. Swedish Match is a splendid company with a terrific legacy, well prepared to face the challenges that keep coming. We know where we stand, with our heads held high. It’s business as usual.

Henrik Olsson
Director of Public Affairs North Europe, Group Public Affairs