Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports that the European Commission’s health directorate has proposed a ban on the export of Swedish snus (article in Swedish here).
Sweden’s government has been quietly urging the European Union to lift its ban on snus sales in other European countries. Dismissing the strong scientific and public health rationale for snus as a cigarette substitute, the health directorate’s proposal ensures the complete market dominance of cigarettes in the EU, thereby sentencing millions of smokers to shortened lifespans.
According to Dagens Nyheter, the proposal will also require health warnings to cover 90% of cigarette and snus packages. But for simple black and white tombstone lettering, branding would be eliminated by 2017.
The proposal is subject to review by the EU’s 27 commissioners; the European Parliament can also play a role. The health directorate hopes to put the proposal into force by 2014.
In related news, the Danish government, threatened with legal action by the EU, announced that it will ban the sale of snus (article here). Traditional loose snus has been legal and modestly popular in Denmark, just across the Strait of Oresund from Sweden. The Danish government will present parliament with a bill to prohibit loose snus by March 2013; according to the Copenhagen Post, at least four political parties will oppose the ban.
With 700,000 smoking-related deaths per year in the EU, the European Commission should embrace the life-saving policy of tobacco harm reduction and eliminate its irrational ban on smoke-free products.