"Will the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Public Health Agency of Sweden implement the Parliament's decision to introduce harm minimisation in tobacco policy? How will they properly investigate the differences between different nicotine products in terms of risk of harm?"
This is the question Karl-Åke Johansson, chairman of NNA Sweden, asks when Jakob Forssmed (kd) takes over as Minister of Social Affairs and head of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
It is now clear that the Christian Democrat Jakob Forssmed will be Sweden's new Minister for Social Affairs. In addition to issues related to civil society and sport, Mr Forssmed will also be responsible for public health issues.
"I hope that he will continue to pursue the issue of harm minimisation. It is important that he clarifies Parliament's decision that tobacco and nicotine policy in the future should be characterised by an evidence-based harm minimisation perspective." says Karl-Åke Johansson, Chairman of the user organisation NNA Sweden.
"Want to create a risk staircase"
The previous government, as well as former Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren, wanted to treat snus, nicotine pouches and e-cigarettes in the same way as cigarettes and smoking. However, this was not supported by the Parliament. Instead, the Parliament gave the government commissioned to investigate the harmful effects of different nicotine products.
"We want to be able to build legislation based on a so-called 'risk ladder' that clearly shows the harmful effects of products containing nicotine. It is obvious that snus and vejpa are not as dangerous as smoking. We have to take that into account." said Johan Hultberg, spokesperson for the Moderates on health issues, in connection with the parliamentary vote against the government's ANDTS strategy 2021.
The S government delayed the investigation
The task and the investigation are now with the Ministry of Social Affairs, i.e. at the Jakob Forssmeds board.
But according to Karl-Åke Johansson the previous government has already delayed implementation of the parliamentary decision. It has also asked the Ministry to investigate whether it is even possible to introduce a harm minimisation perspective in tobacco policy.
Points to the WHO Tobacco Convention
According to the previous government, harm minimisation as a concept may go against Sweden's commitments under the WHO Tobacco Convention. The WHO's position on products such as e-cigarettes and snus is as follows debated, but generally negative. At the same time, the WHO clearly mentions "reducing the harmful effects of smoking" as part of the Tobacco Convention.
"The previous government tried to delay the investigation until the very end. The important thing for us users is that the investigation does what Parliament actually decided. That is to say: compare harm and take into account the large amount of international research published on harm reduction for smokers over the past 10 years. An evidence-based policy can save lives, and at the same time save taxpayers' money by reducing health care costs as more smokers switch to snus, vejpa or nicotine pouches", says Mr Snyder. Karl-Åke Johansson.