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Sweden takes snus fight to Brussels
Photo: Scanpix

Sweden takes snus fight to Brussels

Published: 20 Feb 2011 15:49 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Feb 2011 15:49 GMT+01:00

Sweden's social affairs minister Göran Hägglund has demanded that the EU removes its ban against moist snuff or 'snus'.

In a letter to the EU Commission in response to the so-called tobacco directive, Hägglund described the ban as "illogical" and demanded it be overturned.

Hägglund argued furthermore that the product is "significantly less damaging than cigarettes", adding that a ban contravenes the principles of the free market

The government stance is at odds with its own experts at the Health and Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen) and the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (Folkhälsöinstitutet).

"There are good grounds to argue the adverse health effects of snus and there is no scientific evidence to indicate that snus works to help to quit smoking," the National Institute of Public Health argued in comments on the issue to a EU seminar in 2009.

The EU is undergoing a review of its tobacco policy, the so-called tobacco directive.

Snus is currently only permitted for sale in Sweden, among the EU countries, and there is pressure from some quarters to ease the restrictions. One line of argumentation is that snus is less damaging than smoking and can thus be part of "harm reduction" measures to aid smokers keen to quit.

The Public Health Institute, along with anti-smoking groups, rejects this argument, pointing out that its 2009 national health survey indicated that only five percent of smokers who have managed to stop have done so with the help of snus.

Furthermore, the institute pointed out, four out of ten men who snus also smoke on a daily basis or from time to time.

The issue has landed on Göran Hägglund's table due to a recent move by the EU to shift the tobacco issue from one of trade to a health matter.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:11 February 20, 2011 by Nemesis
Snus is disgusting.

Snus should be banned as should smoking.
17:22 February 20, 2011 by calebian22
At least snus only harms the dummy who uses it.
17:26 February 20, 2011 by JulieLou40
This is one thing that I hope Brussels wins on and Sweden loses.

My partner uses it and it's vile. In our house we call it "death powder". It stinks and makes the user's teeth yellow. Bleurgh.
17:50 February 20, 2011 by DAVID T
Smoking makes your teeth and fingers yellow as well as lung cancer
19:23 February 20, 2011 by Beef
Strange double standard. I'll support it when the government allows me to pop out on a Sunday evening and by that bottle of wine that I fancied for dinner this evening. As for promoting something as addictive as snus internationally. Very strange!!
19:46 February 20, 2011 by Bostonexpat
I'm sure there are "We luv Göran" posters throughout the halls of Swedish Match
19:48 February 20, 2011 by Rick Methven
It would save me taking a whole stock when I go on my holidays in Europe
20:18 February 20, 2011 by philster61
Best birth control ever invented........
21:08 February 20, 2011 by johnny1939
I think snusa is more disgusting than smoking particularly when women do it.
21:57 February 20, 2011 by Swedesmith
Saying snus is better than cigarettes is like saying polio is better than paralysis.
00:38 February 21, 2011 by Rishonim
@Beef. I agree with you. Systembolaget contravenes the principles of free will and choice.
01:10 February 21, 2011 by Corvinus
If this ban is based purely on health reasons they best get a wiggle on and ban cigarettes too, oh, and booze of course...
04:42 February 21, 2011 by Raggare
Interesting that so many people seem to be against snus, even though us snusare only hurt ourselves (as opposed to smokers).

Is it safe to assume the same people who are so against snus, are also against alcohol? I really hope so, in the name of consistency.

Both snus and alcohol have a long history in Sweden, some people may even say they are part of the Swedish heritage.

So should we outlaw snus and alcohol now, or can we let people make their own choice??
05:25 February 21, 2011 by waffen
I quit using snus over eight years ago, yet when I had read that Therese Allshammar used both snus and drank coffee regularly,

I considered changing my mind.

I did not, but anyone who tells me that her teeth are yellow I would reply that they are blind. She has no yellow fingers nor yellow teeth. Besides that, she is the best female swimmer in Sweden., and an Olympian, and will be again at age 33..

I tend to go along with her notion of using snus, and thus pay no mind to those who post to the contrary here.who have no such accomplishments as she.
08:01 February 21, 2011 by ooh456
As a snus user for 25 years, I wish the stuff had never been invented. Okay I'm gonna have a coffee and snus now, bye.
08:04 February 21, 2011 by seagull
Amazing how many people who seem to want to get rid of freedoms. Banning something because you personally don't like it. What next? Cabbage?, fish (esp surstrumming), the perfumes or after-shaves you don't particularly like?, music?, people who annoy you???

I hope they win this one... It (as they say) makes absolutely no sense.
11:31 February 21, 2011 by Beef
I think banning as a principle should be almost a last resort. Snus is already banned. They're reasoning for unbanning is, and I repeat, a double standard. That's my issue. Snus is highly addictive. So many people want to quit and just can't. Why inflict that on others, especially when most people outside this country are not even aware of its existence! Ludicrous.
11:52 February 21, 2011 by Keith #5083
I don't like snus!

Equally, I am not keen on alcohol (which costs national health services 6, yes 6, times what smoking costs) - however, any measure that can result in 5% of smokers stopping should not be derided as is done by the PHI.

I think any such reports should always carry data on those who prepare the reports:data on do they smoke? how much? do they snus?how much? do they drink alcohol? how much? Do they believe in double-standards? how much?

.
12:15 February 21, 2011 by Rick Methven
I was a smoker for 50 years and had tried to give up many times and failed just as many when I used patches, gum etc as aid.

I finally gave up smoking by switching to snus and am able to gradually reduce my intake of snus and hopefully quit that as well. Snus is a tobbaco product but at least it does not contain all of the tar and additives of cigarettes that clog your lungs. With snus, I breath more easily and can exercise more without coughing my guts up AND my clothes do not stink and I am not forcing others near me to breath secondary tobacco smoke.

With an almost total smoking ban in Europe and around the world, smokers are having a hard time of it. The availability of snus would be of a help to smokers in other European countries to give up the weed in an easier manner.
14:25 February 21, 2011 by JoriH
I think one of the most concerning things about snus is that you are practically able to use it anywhere, anytime and that's exactly what Swedish people do. I know people who sometimes go to bed with snus in their mouths and when they wake up, they just spit it out and get a fresh bag. People do it schools, work, bars, public transportation, just everywhere.

I was a smoker for 10 years and after I quit I've started to realize how scary it is that a huge part of this nation is continuously consuming highly addictive nicotine products. I remember how anxious I used to get when I wasn't able to get my normal "fix" and I "only" smoked 5-10 cigs a day. I can just imagine what these people are going through when they use snus all the time, portion after portion. That just makes me sad... I know a guy who tried to quit snus by starting smoking, he said it far less addictive. He failed of course and is currently doing both.

Alcohol is stupid as it is but at least you get some kind of an buzz out of it when you use it. Nicotine addicts only use the stuff they're addicted to in order to get rid of the withdrawal effects, "to make them normal" as they say. Nicotine is highly addictive, totally useless and the common ways to consume it are very harmful. Doesn't make much sense to me.
18:07 February 21, 2011 by mkvgtired
If Snus clears the "bad for you" hurdle where will the banning stop? Granted, Snus is not the most attractive habit, neither is smoking. I used to smoke and quit without different aids (otherwise you are just displacing your addiction). I am amazed that Snus is banned in the EU. But then again what would you expect from the organization that banned misshapen strawberries until recently.
18:13 February 21, 2011 by Keith #5083
#Jorih

hmmm... and exactly how do you attempt to suggest that alcohol is not addictive?

Do you not think the 'buzz' from alcohol is not an addictive response to the latest fix?

Ah, but I forget, alcohol is still a 'socially acceptable addiction'. This from the BBC today:

"Doctors are warning poor alcohol regulation could cost up to 250,000 lives in England and Wales over the next 20 years".
19:53 February 21, 2011 by planethero
E621 overdose.

yummy, smakförstarkare soaked tobacco.
22:33 February 21, 2011 by rumcajs
I stoped smoking thanks to the snus... ok, yeah.. it's another adiction, but I don't blow the crap on my son. Also, it doesn't make me feel tired like smoking (I walked 2 streets and felt like after running a whole mile).

The guy is right, snus is faaar less bad than smoking..... but smoking gives a lot of money in taxes to goverments and the pharma industry with the uselesss nicotine products that don't help at all. THAT is the difference.
23:52 February 21, 2011 by JoriH
@ Keith #5083

Why would I "attempt to suggest that alcohol is not addictive"? I'm pretty sure I made no such claims in my text before. I was merely comparing the effects of alcohol and nicotine on people consuming them.
10:50 February 22, 2011 by Keith #5083
#JoriH

Sorry. I misunderstood your strong emphaisis on nicotine addiction as opposed to the 'lesser' harmful effects of a 'buzz'. I now see that you did not intend to imply that

alcohol was not addictive.
13:56 February 22, 2011 by americanska
BAN IT, reason being. I don't like it and I think it's gross.

So I'll just stay on my high horse while I have my cigar and scotch.
23:15 February 24, 2011 by Gil Ross MD/ACSH
The ban on snus in the EU is simply illogical and counterproductive from any point of view. Some may find it unpleasant, some smokers will dual use, of course. But given the addictive power of smoking, the danger of second-hand smoke, and the abysmal success rate of approved cessation products--something must be done to help the millions of addicted smokers quit. The objections are theoretical--the people dying of lung (and other) cancers and a wide range of cardiovascular diseases are quite real. How can a ban be justified when deadly cigarettes are available on every streetcorner and schoolyard? Give smokers a break, remove the ban. I speak as a public health professional who had to quit 15 times before it 'took".
01:00 March 31, 2011 by studentdo
If the United State's experience with smokeless tobacco can be a guide to this debate, look at dip tobacco usage. Since smoking bans went into effect in the US, dip consumption increased by some 200% since 2000 and yet mouth and throat cancer rates attributed to its use has not increased. From a simple cost standpoint, treating lung cancer is very expensive with little chance of long-term positive outcome whereas mouth and throat cancer can be treated much easier with a higher success rate. As far as addiction is concerned, we all have free will and its best that the politicians keep their noses out of our lives and stick to what they should, not bankrupting our countries!
00:28 May 31, 2011 by darkrealm
recent studies by many credible scientists have proven that snus and american dip does not cause oral cancers. The current EU ban on snus may have something to do with the amount of money made from Nicotine replacment therapy, the pharma companies are making a sweet deal selling a product that only has a 10% success rate. Snus would kill their trade.
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