Government cuts tax on snus - hopes to reduce smoking rate

Sharply reduced tax on snus. This is what Swedish snus users can expect if the government's proposal is adopted in next year's budget. At the same time, it will become more expensive to smoke. Among snus users, the announcement is received with cautious joy.
"Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a trend reversal in tobacco policy. Now we hope for more harm minimisation and more conscious decisions to reduce smoking in Sweden even more', says Samuel Lundell, Chairman of the Swedish Snus Association.

The government and SD want to reduce the tax on snus in connection with next year's budget. The 20 per cent tax cut, which is estimated to be three kronor a can in shops, will be financed by a corresponding tax increase on smoking tobacco, i.e. cigarettes. 

"The motive behind this is that there are significantly more Swedes who use snus than who smoke. I suspect that the reason for this is that the health effects of smoking are considerably more negative and tangible than the effects of snus," says Oscar Sjöstedt, economic policy spokesperson for the Swedish People's Party (SD) to Sverigedemokratiska the media channel Riks.

Want to reduce harm from smoking

The governing parties, together with the Sweden Democrats, have already had a consensus on the role of snus in harm minimisationat least for ex-smokers who have switched from cigarettes to snus. This is in contrast to the left block, where views on snuffing, vaping and smoking does not distinguish between different risks of harm. The tax cut will be the first clear policy proposal that could promote snus use at the expense of smoking.

"This is an important break in the trend, clearly. Snus has a harm-minimising effect on nicotine consumption in Sweden, but we have not seen many political decisions that actually acknowledge that this is the case. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a different direction than the one pushed by previous governments" says Samuel Lundell to Vejpkollen.

"No negative impact on public health"

But according to Oscar Sjöstedt (SD), it is not the effects on public health that are the primary reason for the change in the tax.

"Adults are allowed to make their own choices and I don't want to make any judgements. There is probably no adult who is not aware that there are risks associated with the use of tobacco of various kinds. But if this leads to people who smoke today, stop smoking and instead start snusing, I can't see that it would have a negative impact on public health. Quite the opposite," says Oscar Sjöstedt to Riks.

Samuel Lundell and the Swedish Snus Association are currently most pleased that the government is taking the snus issue seriously. 

"Last year the tax on snus was increased, but now it is being reduced instead, which is a step in the right direction. We would have preferred to see the tax on snus cancelled completely. " says Samuel Lundell to Vejpkollen. 

Investigation criticised

Earlier this year, the government asked the Public Health Agency to produce documentation in order to compare the differences in injury risk between different forms of nicotine use. The study found that snus, like vaping, is likely to be associated with fewer risks than smoking - although according to Swedish authorities there is no good evidence to assess the risks. However, the investigation was criticised for not taking into account a sufficient number of relevant studies and summaries in the field.

Not until the next autumn budget

The government's planned proposal to reduce the tax on snus does not currently affect other oral nicotine products, such as cigarettes. white snuff or nicotine pouches. Neither are changes to the e-liquid tax is part of the expected proposal. According to information to Aftonbladet the tax cut can only take effect in November 2024 - and will not be included in the 2023 autumn budget.

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