Christian Engström, Pirat

29 oktober 2012

Open Letter to All Anti-Snus Lobbyists

Filed under: snus — Christian Engström @ 9:56

Why is this lobby group opposed to the smoke free product snus, which has helped many Swedes to stop smoking?

Last week I and my colleagues in the European Parliament got an email from the lobbyist group Smoke Free Partnership. The lobbyists defended ex-commissioner Dalli who resigned over allegations of soliciting bribes for lifting the ban on snus in the EU, and urged us politicians to press ahead with the Tobacco Product Directive (including the ban on snus) regardless.

I sent them the following reply:

Dear Smoke Free Partnership,

Thank you for your letter defending ex-commissioner Dalli, and expressing your desire to have the Tobacco Products Directive adopted as soon as possible in its present form. Although I of course respect your loyalty to Mr. Dalli, I think it would be wise to await the further investigations by OLAF and other anti-corruption units before discussing that aspect further.

However, I would be very interested to learn why you are opposed to snus, especially considering the name of your lobby group, The Smoke Free Partnership.

As you are probably aware, snus is a smoke-free product that serves as a substitute for smoking. In Sweden, which is the only member state where snus can be sold, smoking prevalence is the lowest in the entire EU. Many Swedes (including myself) have found snus to be helpful to either stop smoking or to smoke significantly less. The health benefits of stopping smoking, or smoking less, are beyond question, and I am sure I don´t have to convince you of that. Considering this, I find it very hard to understand your opposition to snus.

I have today sent a written question to the Commission, asking them what scientific studies on snus they have based their opposition to this smoke-free product on (if any). If it will turn out that the Commission is unable to reply (we will know when the answer comes in six weeks), that would of course raise further questions about Mr. Dallis handling of this dossier, and add to the speculation as to his motives in recommending a ban on snus.

I would find it very interesting if you, as an active lobby group supporting the Commission, would be prepared to answer the same question. On what scientific studies, comparing the harm caused by snus to the harm caused by smoking, are you basing your opposition to snus?

/Christian Engström MEP

I have not received any reply from Smoke Free Partnership yet, but I assume one will come in due course. However, there are other lobby groups who also are pressing for a quick adoption of ex-commissioner Dalli’s Tobacco Product Directive, and I would be very interested in hearing their views as well.

I invite all lobbists opposed to snus to explain why, and what research they are basing their opposition on.

Please send me an email to christian.engstroem@europarl.europa.eu. If you want to, you are also very welcome to contact my office and book a meeting, and I shall be happy to receive you.

I hope I will get answers in due course from all lobbyists who have been pushing for a ban on snus, so that I can understand the reasons for their opposition, and thereby hopefully get to understand the position of Mr. Dalli and the Commission better.

Legislation in Europe should be based on facts and proper research, and this is particularly important when it comes to health issues.

Snus is a traditional Swedish product that has been manufactured and sold in Sweden for two hundred years, but it is not necessarily well known in the other member states. If there has been a misunderstanding about this product, I would like to help to clear it up.

29 kommentarer

  1. Fast snusa inte efter några öl. Du kommer få härdsmälta i magen inom några timmar. Eller så kanske det bara är jag som har kassa snus-gener… Men visst lär väl risken för lungcancer och KOL minska om man snusar ist. för röker. :)

    Kommentar av ForskarGurra — 29 oktober 2012 @ 13:53

  2. They probably have to re-falsify their reports on snus. As Swedish media reported, the actual report provided by proper scientists declared that the health issues of snus was negliable, and the scientists recomended that snus be legalized in all of EU. This, of course, did not sit well with the anti-snus lobby, who proceeded with ”correcting” the scientific reports to suit their purposes.

    Kommentar av SBJ — 29 oktober 2012 @ 14:32

  3. [...] Last week I and my colleagues in the European Parliament got an email from the lobbyist group Smoke Free Partnership. The lobbyists defended ex-commissioner Dalli who resigned over allegations of soliciting bribes for …  [...]

    Pingback av Open Letter to All Anti-Snus Lobbyists « Christian Engström, Pirate ... | Tobacco Harm Reduction | Scoop.it — 29 oktober 2012 @ 15:57

  4. [...] See on christianengstrom.wordpress.com [...]

    Pingback av Open Letter to All Anti-Snus Lobbyists « Christian Engström, Pirate … | vapeforlife — 29 oktober 2012 @ 15:57

  5. Detailed evidence on the scientific,ethical and legal case for banning snus is available here: http://www.clivebates.com/?p=434

    (Note. there is no case)

    Kommentar av Clive Bates (@Clive_Bates) — 29 oktober 2012 @ 16:19

  6. Clive, thanks for the link. That was a very interesting read.

    Kommentar av Tor M — 29 oktober 2012 @ 19:14

  7. Don’t forget that the EU are also trying to ban electronic cigarettes, along with the WHO, on entirely false grounds. Harm reduction does not seem to be a term that appears in their vocabulary. Quit or die is the only way forward according to them.

    Kommentar av Mike — 30 oktober 2012 @ 15:03

  8. ”On what scientific studies, comparing the harm caused by snus to the harm caused by smoking, are you basing your opposition to snus?”

    You can’t automatically allow all products that are less harmful than other harmful products.

    According to Swedish Match, the main manufacturer of snus/snuff in Sweden:

    ”Children and young people are particularly sensitive to nicotine and should not use snuff or other products containing nicotine. The same applies to pregnant or lactating women. Nicotine can have an effect on blood circulation in the placenta and thus affect fetal growth, and nicotine in the blood passes into breast milk.

    Nicotine affects blood circulation, increases the heart rate and constricts blood vessels. People with different types of heart problems, such as irregular heart rhythms or angina should avoid nicotine. The same applies to those who have or have recently had disorders of blood circulation to the brain.”

    http://www.swedishmatch.com/sv/Snus-och-halsa/Nikotin/

    Yes, snuffing is better than smoking but we should really do more for a world without tobacco.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 31 oktober 2012 @ 19:41

  9. @nejtillpirater

    ”You can’t automatically allow all products that are less harmful than other harmful products.”

    You certainly should, when other specified harmful products are, in fact, legal and allowed.

    Legislation must, in the end, be proportional and reasonable. And when such legislation is regarding a prohibition of a substance it makes no sense to allow the more harmful product in favor of the less harmful alternative.
    This is particularly pungent in view of the fact that no one in the EU has even considered a proposal on a blanket smoking ban.

    As for doing more for a world without tobacco…such as what? The nordics have the highest taxation on tobacco in the world, insists on putting labels on all packets saying ”SMOKING WILL KILL YOU”, have running and repetitive anti-smoking campaigns and there is no doctor in the entire nation who will not persuade a smoker, by hook or crook, to stop. Similar measures have been running in other EU nations for a long time as well.

    Short of shooting smokers in the streets I don’t see very much else that could be done. Especially when in France, when they tried to ban smoking in public places, the result was an upswing in public smoking.

    You can restrict the behavior of the public only so much before you hit an absolute limit. We’re pretty close to that limit as it is, having hit the point of diminishing returns many years ago.

    Kommentar av Scary Devil Monastery — 1 november 2012 @ 14:09

  10. @Scary

    ”Short of shooting smokers in the streets I don’t see very much else that could be done.”

    Very much can be done and is done in various countries:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_smoking_bans

    It’s time for Sweden to take more steps towards a world without tobacco.

    ”Especially when in France, when they tried to ban smoking in public places, the result was an upswing in public smoking.”

    Can you back that up with a link? Perhaps only temporary.

    Found this:

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1949817,00.html

    ”The Non-Smokers’ Rights (NSR) association says it has collected data and evidence showing that the ban on smoking in the workplace is currently being violated far more than it was when the law came into effect in 2007. Studies show that complaints by people of exposure to second-hand smoke at work, which dropped from nearly 43% in 2006 to just 9% the following year, has now gone back up to 21%, according to NSR. The reason? Widespread government enforcement of the law never materialized as expected, leaving employers and workers less worried about being fined nearly $200 per infraction. Some employees now light up at their desks or by the coffee machine instead of joining their shivering colleagues outside, and many bosses turn a blind eye to it.”

    Still, exposure to second-hand smoke at work at 21% is much better than 43%, right?

    The problem seems to be related to the enforcement of the law but still a very effective ban when compared to the previous level of smoking.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 1 november 2012 @ 17:05

  11. @Scary

    Examples of what Sweden must do to keep up with the important work towards a world without tobacco:

    Australia/Queensland: Comprehensive smoking ban in effect since July 2006. Smoking is prohibited in all pubs, clubs, restaurants and workplaces, commercial outdoor eating and drinking areas, outdoor public places, and within 4 metres of non-residential building entrances.

    Australia/New South Wales: From 1 July 2009, smoking in a car with a child under the age of 16 is against the law. The Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 creates a new offence of smoking in a car with a child under 16 years of age in the vehicle. A $250 on-the-spot fine applies to the driver and any passenger who breaks the law. This is enforced by NSW Police

    ”You can restrict the behavior of the public only so much before you hit an absolute limit.”

    There is no such absolute limit, people will get used to new laws.

    Remember when corporal punishment of children was prohibited in Sweden 1979? ”Prohibition in all spheres of life – in homes, schools, the penal system and alternative care settings – occurred first in 1979 in Sweden.”

    Sweden took the lead despite the fact that many swedes were against the prohibition. Today – supported by 99.99% of the swedes.

    The same will happen if smoking is completely prohibited in the future, supported by 99.99% after some years.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 1 november 2012 @ 17:25

  12. nejtillpirater:

    I don’t see the connection between banning corporal punishment for kids and banning tobacco or other drugs. You have no ”illegal market” where corporal punishment of children will creep, but obviously there are several ”illegal markets” for drugs which will get a big boost if another drug is outlawed. It would probably be as in USA during the alcohol prohibition – powerful criminal networks did the distribution and sale of the drugs (alcohol in that case). Those criminals grew so powerful the police could not handle it.

    So the question is, would you personally have anything to gain if tobacco sales is forced into illegal markets? Maybe that is the case after all…

    Kommentar av ForskarGurra — 2 november 2012 @ 9:52

  13. @ForskarGurra

    ”I don’t see the connection between banning corporal punishment for kids and banning tobacco or other drugs. ”

    There’s no connection other than my response to ”You can restrict the behavior of the public only so much before you hit an absolute limit.”

    I claimed that it’s not obvious that there is such an absolute limit since people will get used to changes eventually, like when banning of corporal punishment for kids was introduced.

    You more or less must be an idiot or behave like an idiot to be a smoker, considering how harmful this is and that’s based on facts. That’s why smoke bans are increasingly accepted by more and more people. So where’s the limit? I’m rather convinced that in some years smoking/tobacco will be completely banned in more and more countries. There will of course be an illegal market, but the total level of smoking and the costs that smoking leads to will be reduced to a very low level compared to the current level.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 4 november 2012 @ 8:26

  14. I’m seeing a parallel here: Snuff is to cigarettes as marijuana is to alcohol. Just because it might be less harmful to society doesn’t mean that they think it should be allowed, as the ultimate goal is to make all drugs illegal, and certainly not allow for any new drugs to gain a foothold in any given culture.

    Which leads to another parallel: ‘Making all drugs illegal’ is to snuff as abstinence is to condoms. And from what little I’ve read, abstinence doesn’t really work that well when people don’t want to abstain. Which goes back to the first parallel: It’s much easier to make people want to abstain snuff if it’s not already a part of their culture.

    So maybe it’s not all a corrupt scheme to extort millions from Swedish Match? Anything is possible! Though perhaps not very probable. ;-)

    Kommentar av Gillsing — 4 november 2012 @ 12:17

  15. @nejtillpirater

    What does ANY of the above have to do with the fact that we are talking about a more harmful product being easier to release on the market than the less dangerous one which fulfills the same desires?

    And on top of that, you present a minor, but very distinct straw man: Regarding beating children we have certainly come a long way – but that is quite understandable as there is a biological imperative NOT TO HARM CHILDREN which most of contemporary society can stand for.
    The matter of child abuse has actually been rather thoroughly researched by biologists and historians and the results, although interesting, aren’t really relevant when comparing a law banning beating a child to a law which gives free reign only to the more dangerous of two substances on the marketplace.

    And as for your arguments regarding laws in general – ”There is no such absolute limit, people will get used to new laws.”

    Incorrect. History has proven, a few thousand times over, that laws which the general citizenry feel aren’t morally justified on a deep-rooted level or are considered ”inconvenient” will be overturned. Sometimes to the extent of actual revolution.

    Distribution of information, for instance, has been a survival trait for several million years which is why most information control laws have been impossible to implement, even given generations of severe armed repression. If it were not so, then how come copyright has been, for all intents and purposes, unenforceable for centuries? Granted the ability to distribute information at all, enough people will do so that the information becomes globally available.

    Were it not so, it would have been an impossible chore from the start to spread literacy. The church would still have an effective monopoly on reading and interpreting scripture.

    Similarly the entire system of communism, consisting of resource distribution laws, was found unacceptable and has effectively died, all attempts to implement and maintain it notwithstanding.

    Laws rooted in xenophobia have proven themselves resistant up to the point where the isolationist culture upholding them encounters a more open culture – at which point they fall.

    The EU is very inconsistent about the tobacco issue. Either ban smoking of tobacco – or allow snus to the same extent in hopes of damage mitigation. Your australia/Queensland comparison actually back up this reductionist view.

    It makes even less sense given that alternative nicotine vectors of administration are sold over the counter in each of the EU nations.

    Kommentar av Scary Devil Monastery — 6 november 2012 @ 12:50

  16. [...] Member of the European Parliament, Christian Engström, has had enough and has written a very good open letter to the anti-snus lobby inviting them to make their case. Let’s see if they [...]

    Pingback av Former Action on Smoking And Health Director Discusses Nicotine and Endorses Electronic Cigarettes and THR | EZ Smoke.ie Blog — 6 november 2012 @ 22:10

  17. The reason for the opposition to snus (and E-cigs) is pretty obvious: these products are not manufactured by Big Pharma, the powerful industry heavily supporting groups like the Smoke-Free Partnership c.s.

    Kommentar av Wiel Maessen — 7 november 2012 @ 1:28

  18. Anti-tobacco is a big money making machine that they just want to keep running and running while pretending to be doing something about people’s health. This is the reason why a) there is no legal age to possess or use tobacco in the vast majority of the industrialized countries (only a legal age to buy, as if this stops youth from getting their hands on tobacco that someone else bought for them or sold them illegaly) b) no harm reduced product will ever be welcomed by the anti-smoking industry because it competes with Big Pharma who makes billions selling their smoking cessation products…over & over & over to the same people since they’re mostly ineffective. Follow the money and it all becomes very clear : http://tctactics.org/index.php/Money

    Kommentar av irocyr — 7 november 2012 @ 3:49

  19. [...] [...]

    Pingback av Anonym — 7 november 2012 @ 8:22

  20. You maybe interested in my article ”The European Union and Big Pharma: A tale of corporate lobbying” for The Commentator. I also note that becuase of snus use ”..Sweden has the EU’s lowest rate of male smoking and consequently the lowest rate of lung cancer and emphysema. The health risks of snus are non existent – perhaps explaining why Sweden also has some of the lowest oral and oesophagal cancer rates in the world.”

    http://www.thecommentator.com/article/1660/the_european_union_and_big_pharma_a_tale_of_corporate_lobbying

    Kommentar av David Atherton (@DaveAtherton20) — 7 november 2012 @ 9:47

  21. To some of the other comments here can I make the following replies. It is my body and what I do with it is my business not yours. How dare you how to live my life, especially the government.

    Kommentar av David Atherton (@DaveAtherton20) — 7 november 2012 @ 9:50

  22. nejtillpirater…”You more or less must be an idiot or behave like an idiot to be a smoker, considering how harmful this is and that’s based on facts.”

    Yes, smoking cigarettes does carry an increase in health risk, as do many other things we eat and do. But what about the health BENEFITS of smoking? Everything you say is just tobacco control propaganda.
    Do you tell people that the only two people to blow out 120 candles on their birthday cakes were both lifelong smokers?….or that red indians smoked for thousands of years and NEVER got lung cancer…or that tobacco leaves have anti-cancer properties…or that smoking lowers skin cancer risk…or that smoking protects against ulcerative colitis and bowel cancer, as well as alzheimers disease and parkinsons disease… and that smoking lowers risk of knee-replacement surgery? Do you tell people that smoking also reduces stress and lowers the risk of obesity…two of the worlds biggest killers!!!.
    Do you inform folk, that children whose parents smoke at least 15 cigarettes a day tend to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of parents who have never smoked. You can see this with your own eyes… 40 years ago, when every man and his dog was a smoker, asthma in kids was practically non-existant, yet since the rapid decline in the number of smokers, there’s been a massive increase of kids with asthma!
    Of course, we haven’t heard about any of these smoking benefits, because tobacco control zealots like yourself, via the media, make sure that your propaganda is all we hear.
    Shame on you. You and your ilk are deceiving people on a biblical scale.

    Kommentar av Parmenion — 7 november 2012 @ 20:43

  23. With the EP hearing coming up early next year it would indeed be highly interesting to get a few answers from the SFP…

    Kommentar av Anonym — 9 november 2012 @ 14:24

  24. The negative health effects of snus are similar to smokeless tobacco use because it’s a product that is placed in the mouth. These risks include developing lesions in the mouth, gum recession and cancer of the mouth or tongue.

    Kommentar av Piracetam — 10 november 2012 @ 17:40

  25. Piracetam writes: ”The negative health effects of snus are similar to smokeless tobacco use because it’s a product that is placed in the mouth.”

    In this case shouldn’t we then also ban pharmaceutical nicotine gum, lozenges and inhalers? And this providing you can properly document that smokeless tobacco does indeed cause these ailments in any significant level that would justify banning snus while keeping the much more harmful smoked tobacco legal.

    Kommentar av irocyr — 12 november 2012 @ 13:56

  26. It should be mentioned, that ”Smoke Free Partnership” along with their sponsors Pfizer & GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 were responsible for the manipulated political report ”Lifting the Smokescreen” about passive smoking deaths in the EU.

    In 2008 the report was strongly condemned by French top quit-smoking expert, professor Robert Molimard, as ”trampling on every scientific principle”:

    http://cagecanada.homestead.com/AnalyseCritiqueMolimard.html

    Kommentar av Klaus K — 13 november 2012 @ 5:23

  27. So two weeks have passed since Christian Engström MEP issued his challenge. Has anyone in the anti-snus lobby provided any evidence? In fact, many of them will have been busy- out in Seoul in Korea, for the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (FCTC) meeting. There they were trying to do to the world what they are trying to do in Europe. I have written an open letter to the delegates of that conference about nicotine products with much lower risk, warning them to ignore the advice of this lobby: http://www.clivebates.com/?p=674 . There are many comments on the letter from experts around the world – these show that those who really know the science and ethics of this issue do not support the position of these vocal European anti-snus activists and think they are dangerously misguided in calling for bans on snus or excessive regulation of e-cigarettes.

    Kommentar av Clive Bates (@Clive_Bates) — 16 november 2012 @ 14:13

  28. [...] weeks ago I published an open letter to all anti-snus lobbyists, asking them what scientific studies on snus they have based their opposition to snus on. So far, [...]

    Pingback av Some Scientific Data on Snus « Christian Engström, Pirate MEP — 22 november 2012 @ 11:31

  29. [...] have written an open letter to all anti-snus lobbyists, asking the same question. Three weeks ago, when I had received no reply, I emailed an invitation [...]

    Pingback av The Anti-Snus Lobbyists Refuse To Meet Me And Present Facts « Christian Engström, Pirate MEP — 13 december 2012 @ 13:13


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