EU re-investigates health risks of oral tobacco

SnusThe European Parliament has called for an “urgent investigation” into whether snus – the oral smokeless tobacco product – helps reduce tobacco-related illnesses. Snus has been banned throughout the European Union (EU) – except Sweden – since 1992.

The EP wants the European Commission (EC) to “urgently investigate the health risks associated with consumption of snus and its impact on the consumption of cigarettes”. The commission is midway through a review of the EU’s tobacco legislation.

The EP’s comments follow calls by British American Tobacco (BAT) earlier this month to lift the ban on snus. It is authorised only in Sweden, where it is so much part of the national culture the country negotiated an exemption from the ban when it joined the EU.

BAT argues that snus can reduce smoking levels by offering an alternative to smoking, by helping smokers to quit and by containing fewer health risks.

However, a relaxation of the ban looks unlikely. In response to BAT’s calls, the EC said: “We will be guided by the advice of our scientific committee. It has already produced its report and this clearly sets out the harm snus does to health.”

Former British Medical Association chairman Sir Alexander Macara has also spoken out against lifting the ban. He adds: “Many non-smokers will be introduced to cigarettes through snus. Rather than decreasing tobacco use there would be a very real danger that it would increase.”

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