European Union regulations 'are to blame' for Britain's smoking problem
The British Government has been taken to the high court by a consumer group set on persuading Jeremy Hunt to snub the EU’s laws against snus, a product which has drastically reduced the number of smokers in Sweden.
Snus is a moist powder tobacco product originating from a variant of dry snuff in early 18th-century Sweden. It is placed under the upper lip for extended periods but has none of the negative effects of inhaling nicotine fumes and is known to educe lethal lung and mouth cancer.
Sweden has by far the lowest rate of smoking in the developed world and government figures show that just five per cent of its men aged 30 to 44-years-old are regular smokers.
This is compared to 22 per cent in the UK and scientists have concluded the widespread use of snus as an alternative to smoking is the reason smoking related illnesses are less prevalent in Sweden.
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Professor Gerry Stimson said: “The UK is failing very badly compared with Sweden at bringing down smoking rates. It is a tragedy that we have four times as many men in their thirties smoking than in Sweden and disastrous that we are banning the most successful alternative to the biggest cause of preventable death.
“Everyone was taken by surprise by the way millions of smokers flocked to e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking. Yet nine million people in the UK continue to smoke and proven alternatives like snus should be available to help those who want to quit. Smokers should have the widest choice of reduced risk products so that they can find the one that works for them.”
In parallel with today’s legal attempts to overturn the ban, a group of 22 Conservative MPs has written to the Health Secretary urging him to include snus in his forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan which will cover Britain’s smoking policy after Brexit.
The EU’s own Commission reported that “it is undeniable that for an individual substitution of tobacco smoking by the use of moist snuff or snus would decrease the incidence of tobacco related diseases”, yet its sale is still outlawed outside Sweden.
Experts at the Royal College of Physicians also believe the introduction of snus onto Britain’s streets could be the answer to the scourge of smoking.
Jeremy Hunt is being urged to allow British people to use snus instead of smoking
A statement from the Royal College said: “Nicotine itself is not especially hazardous, and if nicotine could be provided in a form that is acceptable and effective as a cigarette substitute, millions of lives could be saved.”
Swedish Match, who brought the case to the high court, are adamant the British Government should allow the use of the substance post-Brexit.
Snus is a product popular in Sweden that users place in between their gum and lip
Spokesman Patrik Hildingsson said: “We are asking the UK court to make a reference to the European Court of Justice on the validity of article 17 in the Tobacco Products Directive.
"The novelty of snus has been one of the main arguments for not allowing snus on the internal market. That circumstance has now changed.”