Tobacco Products Directive 92/41/EEC amending Directive 89/622/EEC

In the EU, the placing on the market of tobacco products for oral use — with the exception of products to be smoked or chewed — is prohibited. The prohibition was introduced by Tobacco Products Directive 92/41/EEC amending Directive 89/622/EEC. Snus consumers living outside Sweden cannot order snus from Sweden any more. Far from preventing them from using, snus, consumers now order their product from the US. This ban has proved to be ineffective and dangerous for two reasons. Firstly the average length for the product to arrive within an EU Member State is approximately two weeks (basic shipping) whereas it is approximately three days when sent from Sweden. As a direct result of the long shipping time, micro‑organisms such as bacteria or mould, which are extremely dangerous to consumers, grow on the product.

Secondly, and especially in an economic downturn, this ban only serves to move production from an EU Member State to the US, which in turn generates lower revenue for Sweden.

In light of these facts, would not it be safer for consumers to allow Sweden to export snus within the European Union?

Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

The ban on the marketing in oral tobacco (snus) within the EU was introduced in 1992 in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market while at the same time maintaining a high level of health protection. At that stage, three Member States had already prohibited snus. The ban on oral tobacco was taken over by Article 8 of Directive 2001/37/EC according to which ‘Member States shall prohibit the placing on the market of tobacco for oral use, without prejudice to Article 151 of the Act of Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden’(1)

According to the said Act of Accession y(2), this ban does not apply in Sweden, with the exception of the prohibition to place this product on the market in a form resembling a food product. This Act however provides that Sweden shall take all measures necessary to ensure that tobacco for oral use is not placed on the market in other Member States(3). The ban also applies to trading on the Internet, which is prohibited if the purchaser is resident in a Member State other than Sweden. The marketing of snus is consequently prohibited in Member States other than Sweden also when purchased from third countries.

The harmful effects of all smokeless tobacco were confirmed by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) in its report of 6 February 2008 (4). In the light of this, the Commission does not see reasons to change the legal status of snus in the EU.

(1) OJ L 194, 18.7.2001, p. 26.
(2) OJ L 1, 1.1.1995 (see Article 151 and Annex XV thereof).
(3) For more details, see: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2010:0399:FIN:EN:HTML
(4) http://ec.europa.eu/health/archive/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_013.pdf

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