Nicotine containing products should be regulated according to their risk profile
Swedish Match believes that smokers should have access to viable, non-combustible tobacco and nicotine alternatives with dramatically lower negative health effects compared to cigarettes.
Swedish Match believes that tobacco regulation will continue to increase in scope and that global trends in tobacco regulation could play an important role in promoting shifts between different product categories in the overall nicotine and tobacco market. It is Swedish Match’s aspiration to see a move from “one-size-fits-all” tobacco regulation to an approach that takes into account the differences between product categories and their accompanying risk profiles. We continue to advocate for rational and science-based regulatory frameworks that not only recognize the important role that smokeless products can play in responsibly transitioning adult cigarette consumers to less harmful products, but also allow for continued innovations that will benefit adult consumers. Smokeless tobacco and nicotine regulation should ultimately be based upon standards which strive to ensure that consumers receive attractive products with the highest possible product quality with minimal risk i.e. product standards based on the same principles as food regulation.
Truly effective regulation must be evidence based and requires an exchange of knowledge and experience between governments and industry. Swedish Match believes that better regulation is achieved by maintaining focus on those who are directly affected by the regulation – consumers, customers/retailers and manufacturers. Swedish Match monitors relevant regulatory developments and is actively engaged with stakeholders in various ways, while recognizing that regulatory decisions will ultimately be at the discretion of the lawmaker.
Swedish Match monitors and evaluates the emerging scientific data and interacts with the scientific community. Swedish Match considers itself accountable to all stakeholders in addressing and informing them about the established science and relevant product information.
Swedish Match is also committed to preventing the availability of nicotine products to minors. The Company engages with retailers to ensure that they properly understand the need to enforce required age-verification upon purchase of nicotine products. Swedish Match also cooperates with retailers in order to reduce the growing volume of illicit products which raise risks of unregulated quality and distort competition on the market.
Regulatory developments in Europe
Tobacco products for oral use, except those intended to be smoked or chewed, have been banned in the EU since 1992. As Swedish snus is neither smoked nor chewed, it is prohibited for sale. Upon Sweden’s entry into the EU in 1995, the country was granted a permanent exemption from the sales ban on snus. Cigarettes and other types of traditional smokeless tobacco products (including certain Asian/African varieties, chewing tobacco and nasal snuff) continue to be sold within the EU. The revision process for the EU tobacco directive, which includes the ban on snus will start in 2021. Swedish Match remains committed to informing regulators about how the ban on snus is both discriminatory and contrary to their stated public health objectives.
During the year, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland ruled that the ban on snus, introduced in Switzerland in 1992, lacks judicial ground, and is illegal and unconstitutional. The court motivated their decision by saying that Swedish snus is less hazardous than other tobacco-based products allowed on the Swiss market. The decision had immediate effect and snus can now be marketed in Switzerland.
Regulatory developments in the US
Cigarette consumption continues to decline rapidly in the US as consumers switch to less harmful alternatives. With the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes there has also been an increase in youth usage of these products. This is concerning and much of the regulatory policy discussion in the US has been focused on this development rather than on the overall public health benefits. Characterizing flavors with an alleged appeal to minors have been at the forefront of these discussions. This discussion has also spilled over on other categories where there is no corresponding increase in youth usage. In December 2019, the US congress passed legislation raising the minimum age of the purchase of all tobacco products, including smoking tobacco, smokeless tobacco, and e-vapor products, to age 21. On January 2, 2020 the FDA issued guidance stating that companies that do not cease manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes (other than tobacco or menthol) risk FDA enforcement actions.
In 2015, Swedish Match became the first tobacco company to receive approval by the FDA to market new products through the pre-market tobacco application pathway for its General snus in the US. In 2019, Swedish Match became the first tobacco company to be granted Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) designations by the FDA for eight General snus products, permitting Swedish Match to more accurately communicate to adult consumers the relative health attributes of the General snus products compared to cigarettes. The MRTP decision is a great recognition for the Company and a testament to our vision and our commitment to product stewardship, public health and scientific evidence.
Swedish Match's opinion on regulations:
- Regulation must take into account the relative risk among different tobacco products.
- The EU ban on Swedish snus is discriminatory, disproportionate, violates the free trade and subsidiarity principles and distorts the function of the internal market. It deprives EU consumers of access to a dramatically safer alternative to cigarettes.
- The EU Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) violates the fundamental consumer right to be informed about the product by banning product information disclosure on packages.
- All smokeless tobacco products should be subject to consistent and competition neutral product regulation based on product quality and consumer protection (i.e. similar to food standards).