The idea, which is part of a report being published on Thursday, means that grocery stores, kiosks, petrol stations and bars and restaurants would be able to sell nicotine gum, nicotine patches and other medicines to help smokers quit.
Along with health minister Ylva Johansson, the managing director of Apoteket, Stefan Carlsson, is not impressed with the plan and defended Apoteket’s monopoly.
“We don’t want smokers and snus users to go from one addiction to another – instead, we want to help people get over their nicotine dependency,” wrote Carlsson in a press release.
“We know that advice in combination with nicotine medicine is the best way.”
But the managing director of the Swedish Trade Federation, Dag Klackenberg, welcomed the proposal:
“To allow the sale of nicotine chewing gum in the places where tobacco is sold today is both a logical and sensible decision,” he responded.
“This is hardly about the shops wanting to sell something unhealthy. Rather, it’s the contrary – that we want to help people to get away from their cigarettes.”
The organisation representing Swedish supermarkets, Svensk Dagligvaruhandel, also applauded the proposal and stated that its members would begin selling nicotine gum as soon as possible.
“It’s just a shame that it will take so long to get a decision which ought to have been made a year ago,” said the head of Svensk Dagligvaruhandel, Thomas Svaton.
If the inquiry’s proposal becomes reality, Apoteket’s monopoly on nicotine medicines will disappear. In the wake of the EU court’s verdict last May that the monopoly held by the state run pharmacy is illegal, the government indicated its support for this solution.