"We risk a tax shock and a flavour ban on white snus. One million Swedish users should speak out immediately."
So says Snusbolaget's Head of Communications Markus Lindblad, as plans for new EU legislation on new nicotine products approach a critical stage.
Swedish retailer Snusbolaget urges its customers to protest against the EU's planned minimum tax for new nicotine products. As Vejpkollen has previously reported, the EU Commission is likely to make a proposal before the end of the year.
"Traditional tobacco snus is protected, but the outlook is bleak for white snus. The tobacco-free snus risks a tax shock of several hundred percent, while the flavours may be limited", writes Markus Lindblad, communications manager at Haypp group (which runs Snusbolaget) in Snusjournalen.
More younger users
The debate on white snus has been raging for some years. In Sweden, use has increased, especially among young people, which has attracted the attention of both the media and politicians. According to Swedish Public Health Agency 18% of women and 12% of men in the 16-29 age group reported using so-called nicotine snuff daily or occasionally.
At the same time, smoking in the same group has steadily declined over the same period and is now below 5 per cent. In the rest of the EU, the average is almost 23 per cent.
"If the EU decides on an excessively high mini-tax on tobacco-free snus, it will become a much less attractive alternative to smoking. This limits Sweden and the EU's ability to use economic incentives to promote less harmful products." writes Markus Lindblad in Snusjournalen
Prohibition and restriction of flavours
In Sweden and several other EU countries, it is mainly public health authorities and state-subsidised lobbying organisations who are critical of the increasing use of nicotine pouches. And they have influenced policy internationally. In several countries, such as The Netherlands and Belgium, the products will soon be completely banned. In others, as in Finland, the government is leaning towards limiting flavourings.
While the Swedish government and a majority in the Riksdag is investigating the possibility of possibly regulating smoke-free products more leniently than cigarettes, this goes against the wishes of the Swedish Public Health Agency. FHM believes that white snus should be regulated like cigarettes and other smoking tobacco, with high taxes and a ban on flavours.
"There is a need to regulate these products in a way that is more similar to the protective legislation on tobacco smoking, including a ban on flavourings, regulation of nicotine content and a marketing ban," says Director-General Karin Tegmark Wisell. in a press release.
Improving public health in the EU
According to Mr Lindblad, this is a dangerous path to take, not only in Sweden but throughout the EU.
'Tobacco-related mortality in Sweden is half the EU average. This is because we have had the opportunity to use safer nicotine alternatives for a very long time and snus has displaced traditional cigarettes. Tobacco-free snus has a huge potential to contribute to improved public health in Europe. If Europeans replaced cigarettes with snus to the same extent as Swedes, hundreds of thousands of deaths could be prevented every year. "
"Smokers prefer fruit flavours"
He also believes that the Folkhäslomyndigheten's view of flavours and young users is grossly oversimplified.
"We know that smokers who switch to tobacco-free snus often prefer sweet fruit flavours, they are happy to swap the tobacco flavour for something that does not resemble tobacco at all. We also know from our sales data that there is no major difference between age groups. So there is no particular flavour that attracts a certain age group - regardless of age, people like the taste of strawberry, mint and orange."
"Clear signal from snus users"
The snus company believes that the one million Swedes who use snus and nicotine pouches can make a difference in the upcoming EU negotiations.
"In a survey among our customers, 91 % responded that they would have a negative attitude towards continued EU membership if white snus was subject to substantial tax increases, and 80 % if the EU introduced a flavour ban on snus. This is a clear signal from Sweden's 1 million snus users." says Markus Lindblad.
Thousands of signatures already
Snusjournalen recently launched a petition that (in September 2023) attracted 30,000 snus users to sign the message. Something that Markus Lindblad is very pleased with.
"Everyone wants to help with this. And more answers are coming in all the time," says Markus Lindblad.