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For immediate release

The New Nicotine Alliance brands ECJ decision to uphold the ban on snus a blow to the public health of EU citizens

  • The NNA is disappointed that the ECJ has endorsed a political decision based on moral panic rather than defend the right of smokers to choose safer products
  • The ban on snus, which carries negligible risk, while cigarettes remain widely available is illogical and disproportionate.
  • The UK government’s support for maintaining a ban on snus which has helped migrate huge numbers of smokers away from tobacco in Sweden and Norway flies in the face of their recent commitment to tobacco harm reduction.

LUXEMBOURG: This morning’s decision by the European Court of Justice to maintain the EU ban on the oral tobacco product snus has been criticised by a UK harm reduction charity. The New Nicotine Alliance had intervened in the case on behalf of the EU’s 100 million smokers to defend their right to health in being able to choose safer nicotine products.

Snus is a popular and effective harm reduction product which has helped hundreds of thousands of former smokers in Sweden and Norway avoid the risks of combustible tobacco use. As a result, Sweden now has the lowest lung cancer and tobacco-related mortality in Europe and smoking rates in Norway are plummeting to record low levels, yet the oral tobacco products which have led to such success are banned in every other EU member state for no good scientific or health reason.

“It is scandalous that products such as snus, which carry a fraction of the risk of smoking, are banned while cigarettes are legal and widely available”, said Sarah Jakes, Chair of the NNA, “in light of the evidence from Sweden and Norway, there is no justification for continuing the ban and denying consumers in other countries the same right to choose a far safer alternative. The UK government’s support for the ban during the court case flies in the face of its tobacco control plan, which pledges to maximise the availability of safer nicotine products.”

There is huge consumer grass roots support for tobacco harm reduction, from ex-smokers who now vape or use snus. Campaign group EUfor Snus was formed in 2017 to give a voice to snus users and it now boasts 4,000 members from 100 countries. Remarkable when sale of the product is banned in 27 of the EU member states.

“Giving European smokers, 100 million of them, the right to health and life by allowing 99% less harmful Swedish snus is an act of care for public health.”, said Bengt Wiberg, co-founder of EUforSnus, “To refuse Europeans products of substantially reduced harm which have a proven track record in aiding smoking cessation is an act of wanton negligence towards smokers and public health in the EU. More than 8 out of 10 snus users are former smokers, I am one of them. How many of Europe’s 100 million smokers could do the same if they could legally switch to snus?”

The NNA wants to see wide availability of all safer nicotine products as alternatives to smoking. “When smokers have the widest possible choice of reduced risk products it increases the likelihood of their finding an option that works for them”, said Jakes, “the EU ban on snus was a mistake based on flimsy evidence in the 1990s and it was shameful that the EU decided to maintain the ban in the Tobacco Products Directive of 2014. Today’s ECJ decision is likewise a miscarriage of justice for EU smokers who could benefit from using a far safer product which has helped so many Swedish and Norwegian smokers to quit. The fight will not stop here, the NNA will continue to campaign for what is right, and that is for snus to be available Europe-wide as an alternative to smoking.”

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to Editors: New Nicotine Alliance is a charity concerned with improving public health, through a greater understanding of “new” (risk-reduced) nicotine products and their uses.

Sources:

European Court of Justice judgement in Case C‑151/17 :
http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=2A1C83343A360F2FB84838F0E797BAD0?text=&docid=207969&pageIndex=0&doclang=en&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=2420873

Smoking in Sweden:
Daily smoking fell from 8% to 5% over the last three years. See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017. http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146

Snus use in Sweden:
20% of people are daily users of oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. See footnote on page 73 of EU Eurobarometer 2017 http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146

Smoking in Norway:
Among young women smoking fell from 30% to 1% in seventeen years (2000 to 2017): Norwegian Smoking Data https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/05307/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6

Snus use in Norway:
Use among young women in Norway grew from 5% to 14% in six years. https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/07692/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6

Snus Health Impact:
The Lancet: Global Burden of Disease Study, 2017: No evidence of harm being done by long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” See page 1364: http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)32366-8.pdf

UK Government Tobacco Control Plan
Towards a Smoke Free Generation, a Tobacco Control Plan for England
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630217/Towards_a_Smoke_free_Generation_-_A_Tobacco_Control_Plan_for_England_2017-2022__2_.pdf

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