On 25 January 2018 the European Court of Justice has the opportunity to end the EU ban on the world’s most successful smoking substitute.
In a hearing starting at 0930 the court will look at the legality of the EU prohibition on snus - an oral nicotine product which is very popular in Sweden (1). It has driven the astonishing reduction in the country’s smoking rate from 50% to just 5%. By contrast the EU average is 24% (2).
The EU banned snus in 1992 - Sweden was exempted when it joined in 1995. Since then health experts have increasingly opposed the ban. They have witnessed the collapse of smoking in Sweden along with substantial evidence showing that snus is far safer than smoking (3).. The experts argue that snus is responsible for the sharp divergence in tobacco mortality rates between Sweden and the rest of Europe (4).
One of them is Professor Gerry Stimson who chairs the consumer group the New Nicotine Alliance which is intervening in the ECJ action.
“Snus has been Sweden’s gateway out of smoking which has led to vastly better health outcomes. The European Court has the opportunity to open that gate to the rest of Europe,” said Professor Stimson.
“There is compelling evidence that the ban has cost hundreds of thousands of lives in the rest of Europe. The ECJ should respond with decisive action,” said the Professor.
1. 50% of people in Sweden have used oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. The EU average is 5%. See page 69 of EU Eurobarometer 2017
2. Daily smoking fell in Sweden from 8% to 5% over the last three years. The EU average fell from 25% to 24%. See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017
3. World Health Organisation: snus is “considerably less hazardous” than smoking. EU Commission: the health advantages over smoking are “undeniable". US Food and Drug Administration: authorised snus after exhaustive testing
4. Two academic studies have shown that if snus were available in the rest of Europe it could save between 200,000 and 355,000 lives - every year. (Brad Rodu, 2004, Snus Commission Report, 2017) - see table on page 19 of the Snus Commission Report for annual mortality gap in your country.
5. The ECJ proceedings are case number C-151/17.