Swedish politicians are worried about upcoming international restrictions on nicotine pouches and other smokeless nicotine products. The reason is the upcoming meeting of the WHO's tobacco convention, COP10, where heated tobacco, e-cigarettes but also white snus are identified as threats to public health.
"We must defend our Swedish harm reduction products," writes Tobias Andersson, chair of the Enterprise Committee.
The WHO is expected to propose strong measures to prevent the spread of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn products and nicotine pouches. This comes after the organisation published a series of reports to inform discussions on the revision of the Global Tobacco Convention. On 20 November, the parties will meet in Panama to agree on guidelines for the countries that have signed the Convention. Sweden signed the Convention in 2005 and has committed to implement the guidelines in legislation.
"Given that Sweden has the lowest smoking rate in the EU and is on the threshold of achieving the WHO's ambition of a "smoke-free generation" in which 5 per cent or less of the population are smokers, i.e. that daily smoking in Sweden amounts to 6 per cent, according to the Swedish Public Health Agency, Sweden can be an important voice in achieving a reduction in smoking in the world, if we want to. But then Sweden needs a clear line and position that also defends our Swedish, harm-reducing tobacco and nicotine products." writes Tobias Andersson (S&D), chairman of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, i a call to the Minister of Social Affairs, Jakob Forssmed.
"Great importance for public health"
"Compared to other countries, very few Swedes are affected by lung cancer. Swedes can therefore live longer, contribute to the development of society and save us taxpayers costly care. Sweden has come further than any other country in Europe on the road to becoming smoke-free. This is of great importance for public health and for society as a whole." writes Isak From, also in a swritten question to Jakob Forssmed, Minister for Social Affairs.
Difference in risk between different nicotine uses
The use of alternative nicotine products has increased in Sweden. At the same time, smoking has declined rapidly. According to a recent punpublished report from CAN the number of daily smokers is between 5% and 6% - a figure that the organisation predicts will fall further if the trend continues.
According to Isak From, nicotine is indeed addictive, but he refers to the Public Health Agency of Sweden's recent report on the various harmful effects of nicotine products, in which they the relative risks between smoking and smokeless nicotine use were examined..
"There are currently no studies showing that "white snus" has any serious side effects, although "risks cannot be excluded". Compared to the documented dangerous cigarette, this must be seen as a major public health policy success," writes Isak From.
No "positions" yet
Both Tobias Andersson and Isak From have asked Minister for Social Affairs Jakob Forssmed to provide information on how the government and the Ministry of Social Affairs will act during the WHO meeting in Panama. According to Jakob Forssmed, there is currently no clear plan for the Swedish delegation in Panama. Except that they intend to attend the meeting.
"It is positive that tobacco smoking has gradually decreased and that Sweden has a comparatively low proportion of smokers. The costs to society of smoking are high and prevention and preventive measures are important. Preventive work can also create the conditions for equal health." writes Jakob Forssmed in his response but admits that "the Swedish positions for the meetings of the parties have not yet been developed."