While the battle for Swedish snuff is not new, the National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) has now weighed into the debate by submitting its analysis of the suggested directive to the Swedish government.
“It is clear that many types of snus would be banned,” Food Agency inspector Christer Johansson told the TT news agency on Friday.
The European Commission has suggested that a panel of snus tasters rule whether a product has a clear enough “tobacco taste” to be allowed onto the market.
“It will be up to the panel to decided what a ‘clear taste’ is,” Johansson said.
The European Commission, meanwhile, has claimed that a ban on “non-tobacco” flavouring from tobacco products would knock out about ten percent of the Swedish snus sales.
Yet tobacco giant Swedish Match has said the directive could knock the air out of as much as 70 percent of its snus offering.
The peculiar Swedish snuff – inserted under the top lip by users – is sold in a variety of sizes, either prepacked in small pouches or loose. Aromas from licorice and spearmint to apple and eucalyptus have been added to the shelves in recent years. Vanilla, juniper and bergamot have also sneaked into the reportoire.
The lack of precision in a test panel’s subjective tasting has instilled fear and fostered irritation among snus makers.
“We think it could affect between 30 and 70 percent of our snus types,” said Swedish Match spokesman Patrik Hildingsson to TT. “That’s how big our uncertainty is.”
He dismissed the Commission’s analysis that the directive would deflate profits by ten percent. Hildingsson said it was comparing apples and oranges, as Swedish Match was not solely looking at sales income but the variety of their products. He also questioned the figure’s validity.
“That figures comes from one single analyst at one single bank,” Hildingsson said, further adding that a test panel would offer no guarantees of quality or consistency in its rulings.
“Surely there is no industry that wants that level of uncertainty?”