Stephen Fry challenged the ban on the smoking substitute snus just days ahead of a key legal hearing on the oral tobacco product. (See: https://twitter.com/i/web/status/954655735669035008 )
On Thursday 25 January the European Court of Justice will be hearing evidence on the EU prohibition on snus 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)
In Norway official figures published on 18 January showed that snus has helped to halve its smoking rate to 11% in just ten years. For the first time snus use has overtaken smoking with 12% of the population using it in 2017 compared with 10% the previous year. (3)
The EU banned snus in 1992 - Sweden was exempted when it joined in 1995. Since then health experts have increasingly opposed the ban. Along with the collapse of smoking in Sweden they have seen substantial evidence showing that snus is far safer than smoking.(4) The experts argue that snus is responsible for the sharp divergence in tobacco mortality rates between Sweden and the rest of Europe.(5)
One of them is Professor Gerry Stimson who chairs the consumer group the New Nicotine Alliance which is intervening in the ECJ action.
“I am thrilled that influential figures like Stephen Fry are challenging this absurd ban on the world’s most successful smoking substitute. Snus has been the way out of smoking for vast numbers of people and it should be available to British smokers too,” said Professor Stimson.
“There is compelling evidence that the EU ban has cost hundreds of thousands of lives,” said the Professor.
An academic study (6) in 2017 showed that the ban on snus has led to the premature deaths of up to 355,000 men a year in the EU.
1. 20% of people in Sweden are daily users of oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. See footnote on page 73 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. Norway’s smoking rate falls from 22% to 11%. See Reuters 18 January 2018
4. 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
5. 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.
6. The ECJ proceedings are case number C-151/17.