Government's tobacco policy failed in Parliament - "Do it again, do it right!"

The government's planned tobacco policy was dealt a major blow when 6 out of 8 parties in the Parliament voted against the new ANDTS strategy, focusing on the issue of snus, e-cigarettes and other nicotine products, as well as the high death rate among drug users.

After a debate in parliament, the government's strategy to combat alcohol, drugs, tobacco, doping and gambling (ANDTS) over the next five years was rejected. Six out of eight parties voted against the proposal. Instead, they asked the government to come back with a new strategy that, among other things, differentiates between the harmfulness of different nicotine products. "Do it again - do it right!" was Parliament's message to the Government.

Making the difference between smoke and non-smoke

As Vejpkollen previously reported, there were already clear that the government's ANDTS strategy would not be voted on by the Parliament. Already the week before, the preparatory body of the Parliament announced, Social Affairs Committeethat the strategy was inadequate. The committee made several proposals for changes. These included that the government should set up an enquiry to clarify differences between smoking tobacco and other nicotine products. 

"Tobacco smoking is by far one of the world's most serious public health problems. It is described by the WHO as a global epidemic. We are critical of the fact that the government still does not make a clear distinction between the harmful effects of tobacco smoking and the use of snus and other smokeless nicotine products" said Per Ramhorn (S&D).

All nicotine products together

According to the government, the Swedish tobacco control strategy should not differentiate between different products containing nicotine. Regardless of the harmful effects of the products. This would have major consequences for snus and e-cigarette users in the country. The Centre Party's Anders W Jonsson was clear in its criticism.

"We are unhappy with the wording on tobacco," said Mr Van Miert. Anders W Jonsson. "Let me be the first to say that snus is definitely not a health product, but it is fortified with a number of serious consequences. And of course we should do everything we can to avoid young people taking up snus. But comparing snus to cigarette smoking, which is one of the biggest public health threats we have, causing disease and death like few other things do, is a misleading comparison. So it's not surprising that 6 out of 8 parties are voting no."

Calls for an investigation of the damage

According to the centre-right parties, apart from the Liberals, an ANDTS strategy should primarily address the harm caused by cigarette smoking, not tobacco or nicotine. The government, on the other hand, wants to discourage all forms of tobacco and nicotine use.

"Although all the products in the field of the ANDTS strategy are harmful to health, it is important to clarify scientifically proven differences in the harmful effects of these products." said Per Ramhorn (S&D) "It is therefore gratifying that the Social Affairs Committee has now submitted a proposal for an announcement on a new overall objective. Which takes into account the various harmful effects that different tobacco and nicotine products can cause. And hopefully this can lead to a more serious policy in this area. One that is based on evidence where the different stage effects from ANDTS products are taken into account and also based on scientific risk assessments."

Serious consequences of discouraging all nicotine

Johan Hultberg (m) said that a hard line against all nicotine products could have serious public health consequences.

"Even if it is true that nicotine is also harmful to health, it cannot be ignored that there is a big difference between the harmful effects of smoking tobacco and, for example, snus or nicotine lozenges. After all, if an established smoker manages to quit using snus, for example, there are major health benefits. This is why it is unreasonable to regulate all products in the same way and why the overall objective of tobacco policy should be to reduce harm," said Mr Muller. Johan Hultberg.

The Green Party's Nicklas Attefjord was in favour of the government's proposal.

"I think most people who want to quit smoking don't want to trade one addiction for another," he said in an exchange with Mr Hultberg.

L emphasises dependence but votes no

The government was also supported by the Liberals on tobacco policy. Especially regarding nicotine products.

"We want to change the word 'tobacco' to 'nicotine' in the strategy. Of course there is a difference between the products when it comes to lung cancer. But those who become addicted are never free. Snus also causes vascular changes and is not harmless. We don't know what happens to the children of pregnant women who use snus, for example," said Mr Perez. Barbro Westerholm (L) who at the same time rejected the government's proposal due to unclear drug policy objectives.

Drug policy heavily criticised

Apart from the issue of tobacco and nicotine, it was the government's unwillingness to investigate Swedish drug policy which was in focus. Several bodies, including the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Social Affairs Committee, have called for a thorough analysis of how the Swedish model works in practice. All parties except the Social Democrats were in agreement. Karin Rågsjö (v) says that the government must investigate the consequences of drug policy, including the criminalisation of drug use. Something that has not been done for over 30 years.

"More people die from drugs in Sweden than in other countries, even if the use is small. This is not ok. We think that an ANDTS strategy must be based on evidence and modern methods to counteract drug mortality. We demand an investigation first. Therefore we say no." said Karin Rågsjö.

Flavour ban out for consultation

The government's new ANDTS strategy will now be revised before it is taken up again in the parliament. When this will happen is as yet unclear. The government's original proposal also contained formulations on flavour ban in e-liquid. According to a government investigation, all flavours of e-cigarettes, except tobacco flavour, should be banned from sale in Sweden in 2022. But the question of whether flavour ban in e-liquid is separate from the ANDTS strategy and is still out for consultation. A concrete proposal can only be presented to the Parliament in the autumn. As Vejpkollen previously reported several of the parliamentary parties are in favour of a ban on flavours.


Watch the full debate on the new ANDTS strategy here!

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