Snus benefits questioned

    The EU institutions have urged the European Court of Justice to uphold the ban on snus, which was imposed in 1992, according to a media release issued by the New Nicotine Alliance. The institutions were opposing an action brought by Swedish Match in Jan. 25.
    Snus is used daily by 20 percent of people in Sweden, which was exempted from the ban when it joined the EU in 1995. Smoking in Sweden has fallen from more than 50 percent in the 1960s to just 5 percent today. This is by far the lowest level in the EU where the average for daily smoking is 24 percent.
    Outside the EU, snus is also popular in Norway, which announced this month that smoking has halved in the last 10 years to 11 percent. It has been overtaken by snus use which is now at 12 percent.
    The Counsel for the European Parliament told the court that these dramatic falls had nothing to do with snus. It was instead the result of “healthy living.” The European Council argued that “high levels of parental leave for men” in Sweden were reducing smoking as it meant men refrained from smoking while they were with their children.
    The U.K. and Norwegian governments argued that the ban should continue with the U.K. counsel saying it was “protecting public health.”
    The legal action is supported by the New Nicotine Alliance, a consumer charity. “Snus has been the gateway out of smoking for both Sweden and Norway, which has led to vastly better health outcomes,” said NNA Chairman Gerry Stimson.
    “It is disappointing that while the U.K. government has shifted from opposing e-cigarettes to being an enthusiastic supporter, it has still not changed its mind on the EU snus ban, which it was pivotal in instigating.”
    His comments were echoed by the smoking-substitutes expert Konstantinos Farsalinos. “There is absolutely no doubt that access to snus in Sweden and Norway has played a crucial role in the rapid reduction of their smoking rates,” he said.
    An academic study in 2017 showed that up to 355,000 deaths could have been avoided in just one year if Sweden’s rates of smoking and snus use had been replicated in the rest of Europe.