Sweden has sent angry smoke signals for months after the European Commission for Health Tonio Borg announced plans to ban added flavours to tobacco products, citing the need not to mask potentially health-impacting products with scents and aromas.
Ever since, Swedish politicians at national and union level have fought for snus, whether it tastes of eucalyptus or cinnamon, or any other of the wide gamut of flavours available on the Swedish market.
On Tuesday, the European Parliament voted to discard several points of the ambitious tobacco plan – including the ban on flavours.
Hurra igen! Parlamentet godkände precis fullständigt undantag från tillsatsregler för svenskt snus!
— Christofer Fjellner (@Fjellner) October 8, 2013
Moderate Party MEP Christofer Fjellner took to Twitter to share his delight, tweeting “Hurrah again! Parliament just approved a total exception on additive rules for Swedish snus!”
Not all Swedes were happy with the day’s vote however, with Green Party MEP Carl Schlyter calling it “a shameful day for the European Parliament, as a centre-right majority (…) has done the bidding of the tobacco industry and voted for weaker rules”.
Yet, when it comes to the tobacco industry, two British scientists this week made their view clear that it was nonsense to keep snus off the European market.
In the Financial Times op-ed pages on Tuesday, Gerry Stimson and Clive Bates credited Sweden’s lower cancer rate to snus, estimating it to be 95-99 percent “less risky” than picking up a cigarette.
The writers, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London respectively, also expressed their annoyance at a continuation of the snus-export ban placed on Sweden.
“But these lessons have not been learned. On the contrary, today the European Parliament is likely to vote to maintain the 1992 ban on selling this product outside Sweden, perpetuating a 20-year unscientific, unethical and lethal error,” they wrote in the FT.