For immediate release

European Court official says ban on smoking substitute snus can be upheld

  • ECJ’s advocate general says the European Parliament has the right to ban snus
  • Snus is behind massive falls in smoking in Sweden and Norway
  • Many professional footballers also use it

The European Union’s ban on the smoking substitute snus can be upheld according to the European Court of Justice's advocate general. In his preliminary opinion, ahead of the court's decision this summer, Henrik Saugmandsgaard said that while the evidence for the ban was not clear cut, the European Parliament had the right to impose the ban in 1992. He said that he did not find that the ban was “manifestly inappropriate”. (The opinion was released this morning.)

Reacting to the news the New Nicotine Alliance charity which is an intervening party in the case said that it was a bitter disappointment for EU smokers who could benefit from using snus to give up smoking. However it was pleased that the opinion recognised that there was a substantive case for snus.

“Widespread snus use has been behind the extraordinary collapse in smoking in Sweden where only 5% now smoke. In Norway the effect has been even more dramatic with only 1% of young women now smoking - down from 30% in just 16 years. And that is in a country where selling nicotine e-cigarettes has been illegal,” said NNA trustee, Professor Gerry Stimson.

“Smoking is evaporating where snus is widely used and yet the court now seems set to ignore the overwhelming interests of EU citizens,” said Professor Stimson.

“The European Union still has a big smoking problem with the latest EU figures actually showing smoking going up in France and Italy. The Scandinavian success with snus makes it imperative that this is tried out in the rest of the EU. Banning snus has been a crime against public health,” said Sarah Jakes who chairs the NNA.

There is a considerable underground market in snus across the EU with recent media coverage indicating significant use of it among professional footballers.


Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

ECJ Press Release


Professor Gerry Stimson, New Nicotine Alliance + 44 300 302 0029


Trends in smoking

Norway 1% smoking rate: among young women smoking fell from 30% to 1% in sixteen years: Norwegian Smoking Data (select data using tick icons and then download to Excel). and bottom of Mirror article:
Norway Vaping Ban: Nicotine containing e-cigarettes have been illegal in Norway - although the government has now decided to legalize e-cigarettes.
Norway Snus Use: Use among young women in Norway grew from 5% to 14% in six years. For Norwegian snus data select data using tick icons and then download to Excel.
Sweden Snus Use: 20% of Swedes are daily users of oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. See footnote on page 73 of EU Eurobarometer 2017.
Sweden Smoking Fall: Daily smoking fell in Sweden from 8% to 5% over the last three years. See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017.
France & Italy Smoking Increase: See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017.

Health impact of snus

Action on Smoking and Health: “the contradictory, illogical law on tobacco… leaves cigarettes legal while snus, which is over 100 times less harmful, is banned.”
World Health Organisation: Swedish snus is “considerably less hazardous than cigarettes”. Page 273
European Union: “It is undeniable that for an individual substitution of tobacco smoking by the use of moist snuff would decrease the incidence of tobacco related diseases.” page 14
US Food and Drug Administration: authorised snus after exhaustive testing.
The Lancet: Global Burden of Disease Study, 2017: No evidence of harm being done by long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” page1364.
Oral cancer: for snus “no overall association is seen for oropharyngeal cancer”. See section 3.1 Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology:
Epidemiology: 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

Footballers using snus

Daily Mail: