Tuesday 28 September 2010

Which way will ASH go on snus?

That cradle of democracy, the European Union, is allowing citizens to sort of vote on the Tobacco Products Directive. There are only seven questions so it's worth making your voice heard.

The main issues are the legalisation of snus, regulation of e-cigarettes, graphic warnings, plain packaging and bans on vending machines and tobacco displays—all the things that tobacco controllers have been getting excited about over the past few years, basically.

The snus issue is particularly important (see question below—and note the possibility of banning all smokeless tobacco products!) Click to enlarge.

Of all the suggestions put forward in the EU document, repealing the ill-conceived and scientifically unjustifiable ban on snus is the only one which would have a positive impact on health. The only EU country currently allowed to sell snus is Sweden. Not coincidentally—since snus is 99% safe—Sweden also has the lowest rates of smoking-related diseases.

ASH (UK) will doubtless submit its views to the consultation, but which way will it go? In 2004, an ASH press release said:

ASH believes that there is no logic to the banning of snus, when cigarettes, which are far more deadly, are on general sale, but that snus should not simply be de-regulated.

That was six years ago, however, in the days before ASH developed a cosy financial relationship with pharmaceutical companies who also happen to make 99% safe oral nicotine products of their own. The "independent" anti-smoking charity has been quiet about snus in recent years.

ASH was originally set up, in part, to find ways of making tobacco consumption safer (an aim now wiped from their website). So will they act in the interests of public health or in the interests of the pharmaceutical industry?

You can respond to the online consultation here.

You can read the proposals here.

And everything else is here.

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline has asked the US government to remove dissolvable tobacco products from the market. No conflict of interest there then.


Fredrik Eich said...

The option "No Change" is a little less
prompting than "Take No Action" or "Do Nothing" options that we often see.

PJ said...

I criticised the presentation of options in my response. In particular the lack of 'repeal regulations'

westcoast2 said...

The Bans section includes cross border and internet sales bans. In addition (similar to the US Pact Act) would it become illegal to send tobacco products through the post?

This would be relevant to all tobacco products.

In the specific case of Snus would the only place to buy and use it be Sweden?

As for ASH, there main aim seems to be to help split the nicotine market into Tobacco/Drugs. Snus would fall on the Tobacco side and therefore invoke the tobacco-free mantra that seems to have taken hold.

Christopher Snowdon said...


I think the internet ban would criminalise all mail order sales but I'm not 100%. Certainly snus is not supposed to be exported from Sweden to other EU countries, but consumption is not illegal.

Anonymous said...

You can order snus from Sweden. I placed an order after asking what the chances of it being stopped were. The company said they had never had a Swedish post parcel stopped, even though the contents have to be described on the outside of the package. I have not received the order but the company appears to have a poor reputation. If it had been stopped by customs I would have received notification. Even with postage, snus is very cheap. If it were made legal the UK Gov would slap a massive tax on it.

Martin Drautzburg said...

Whenever I hear a conspiracy theory I tend to reject it. Conspiracy theories are often wrong.

But in this case, where legislation works against scientific evidence, the only conclusion is: "it is not about health"

So who is pulling the strings here? The possibility to sell products to millions of smokers must have some appeal to the pharma industry. More so, most customers feel guilty and won't blame the industry for ineffective treatment. And best of all: many anti-tobacco activists work for the pharma industry for free (some are receiving dontations though).

Now that the tobacco industry has been identified as the bad guy nobody will notice the super villains anymore.