According to an article in daily DN, the Swedish government is getting international support in their fight to keep the “snus” (snuff) for being banned in the European Union. Six health researchers now propose a new way to proceed in a joint letter to Maria Larsson, Minister for Children and the Elderly, which will pave negotiations with other EU countries. The six encourage the government to keep up the fight for each EU country to decide whether sales of “snus” or other smokeless tobacco should be allowed or not, but with joint EU rules regarding the ingredients.
Among those who have signed the letter is Karl-Erik Lund, Director of Research at Sirus, the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research, Professor Michael Kunze, Director at the Institute of Social Medicine in Vienna, Professor Emeritus Martin Jarvis, who has done scientific research on tobacco addiction, and Clive Bates, former Chairman of the British anti-tobacco organization ASH. Together with some other ten researchers, the above have previously written the EU commission and argued for “snus” being less dangerous than cigarettes, while also insured that they are not lobbyists for the tobacco industry. According to them, “snus” is the reason why fewer people smoke in Sweden than in the rest of the European Union – 13% of adults in Sweden smoke as compared to 28% in all of EU. And also that mortality in lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases are lower in Sweden than in other countries.

' less of a healthrisk'
They also believe that the warning texts on the “snuff” packages ought to be changed. Instead of the current text: “This tobacco product may harm your health and may be addictive” they propose: “This product contains nicotine and may be addictive, but is less of a health risk than cigarettes”.
Says Martin Jarvis: “Proof that smoke free tobacco has a health effect can no longer be ignored. There are no scientific arguments to ban access to less harmful cigarette alternatives.” Maria Larsson and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt have earlier expressed their argument in EU-negotiations mostly so that sales of “snus” may be continued in Sweden, and that EU should not involve what sort of flavor additives it contains. But the six researchers encourage the government to be more offensive. “We hope that you act forcefully for the health of people during the negotiations, even though it may be interpreted as support for a tobacco product,” they write to Maria Larsson. They also ask the government to act for an exception for “snus” from the EU commission’s proposal for a ban on taste additives. They believe that smoke free tobacco products have less of a tobacco taste and therefore need flavor additives.
Negotiations regarding the new tobacco rules have just commenced between the member countries and in the EU parliament. Last December, the EU commission presented a proposal which included extended health warning on cigarette packets as well as a continued ban of “snus” outside of Sweden and regulations on what flavor additives that may be included in cigarettes and “snus”. The commission warned that if “snus” is released on the market in other EU countries, it will lead to an increased tobacco use among young people, especially the sorts of “snus” that contain licorice and other flavor additives created to lure young people and women to begin using “snus”. The commission also has support among a string of researchers who believe that launching “snus” in the rest of Europe will not lead to a decrease in smoking.