Resolution Urging the European Union to Remove Its Ban on the Sale of Smokeless Tobacco
The European Union’s (EU’s) current ban on the sale of snus is in direct violation of one of its own governing principles – that of promoting the free movement of goods within the EU. Further, the European Commission concedes that cigarettes, whose sale is not banned, have far greater health consequences than snus. Therefore ALEC urges the European Commission to conduct the agreed-upon review of the issue and to lift the ban on the sale of snus in the EU.
Whereas, the Four Freedoms: free movement of goods; capital; services and persons within the European Union (EU) form the fundamental principles on which the Union was established; and
Whereas, Sweden is a member of the EU; and
Whereas, the sale of smokeless tobacco (snus) is prohibited everywhere in the EU except for Sweden while many other tobacco products including cigarettes can be sold anywhere in the EU; and
Whereas, Swedish and Swedish-style snus is the only commodity that is lawfully-produced, sold and consumed in an EU member state and exported worldwide but cannot legally be sold anywhere in the EU except for Sweden; and
Whereas, an EU ban of a product largely produced in one EU member state is discriminatory and in direct violation of competitive market laws; and
Whereas, the European Commission has failed to demonstrate why the ban on snus sales is reasonable in light of its role as the EU guardian of free trade and member state equal right of access; and
Whereas, several studies, including one published in The Lancet in 2007 found that snus use caused no increase in cancers of the lung or mouth and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer that was significantly lower than that of cigarette use; and
Whereas, Sweden has the lowest number of daily smokers in the EU (18% of the population) and the highest level of EU snus consumption; and
Whereas, tobacco-related cases of lung cancer and heart disease are lower in Sweden than in any other EU member state; and
Whereas, snus has been shown to help people discontinue cigarette smoking, a more risky way to consume tobacco; and
Whereas, a study conducted by the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, Australia found little difference in health adjusted life expectancy between smokers who ceased using all tobacco products and smokers who switched from another tobacco product to snus; and
Whereas, the EU wants to reduce cigarette smoking among its population; and
Whereas, studies demonstrate that Swedes find it easier to quit smoking than citizens of any other EU member state; and
Whereas, both the European Commission and the European Parliament have recognized that snus is a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking; and
Whereas, other forms of “oral” tobacco that arguably pose greater health risks are permitted to be sold in the EU;
Therefore, be it resolved that the European Commission, per its own directive, conduct a review on snus, as it is less harmful than EU-sanctioned tobacco products;
Be it further resolved that the European Commission lift its 1992 ban on snus sales in the European Union.
Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on January 8, 2010.