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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.