Translation of press release from the Swedish Pirate Party:
Christian Engström, member of the European Parliament for the Swedish Pirate Party, has put a written question to the Commission, and asked it what scientific studies the ban on traditional Swedish smoke-free tobacco product snus is based on. The European Commission answers that it is aware of a number of scientific studies, but it will not disclose which ones.
”The Commission refuses to present facts because it doesn’t have any. This strengthens the suspicions that commissioner Dalli, who was forced to resign over the issue, was planning to let he future of snus be determined by bribes,” says Christian Engström.
Snus may currently not be sold in the EU outside Sweden, and the draft for a revised tobacco products directive maintains the ban. According to the EU anti-corruption unit Olaf, this is because snus producer Swedish Match refused to pay a bribe of 60 million euro to former commissioner Dalli to have the ban lifted.
”It is high time that the EU adopted a fact based policy regarding snus,” says Christian Engström.
In an opinion piece in The Parliament magazine last week, Christian Engström demanded that if the Commission is unable to present proper scientific studies to back up the ban on snus, the Commission’s President Mr. Barroso must appoint a senior commissioner to head the health and consumer directorate general (DG Sanco), in order to investigate what has happened under Dalli, and what parts of the draft tobacco products directive need to be revised.
Christian Engström’s question to the Commission:
Question for written answer E-009696/2012
to the Commission
Christian Engström (Verts/ALE)
Subject: The Tobacco Directive and Swedish oral tobacco (snus)
The recent turmoil surrounding the revision of the Tobacco Directive has highlighted the handling of the issue of Swedish oral tobacco (snus).
1. Does the Commission agree that the starting point for the Tobacco Directive should be a high level of protection for health, safety, the environment and the consumer, particularly with regard to new developments based on scientific facts, and that health protection should be made a priority in this connection?
2. Does the Commission agree that the principle of facts-based decision-making should apply across the board, and specifically to the Tobacco Directive?
3. If so, what studies concerning the health risks of Swedish snus, as compared with other legal tobacco products, underlay the decision on whether Swedish snus should continue to be banned for sale in Member States other than Sweden, or whether its sale should be permitted in the same way that applies to other smoke-free tobacco products and should be regulated in accordance with, for example, the legislation on foodstuffs?
Answer from the Comission:
Answer given by Maroš Šefčovič
on behalf of the Commission
1. The overall goal for the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive is to improve the functioning of the single market while at the same time ensuring a high level of protection for health.
2. The Commission agrees that fact-based decision making is of utmost importance. The impact assessment is a fundamental part of the development of proposals by the Commission – including the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive – in order to assure that EU legislation is based och clear and complete facts.
3. The impact assessment will be published together with the legislative proposal. Regarding scientific findings and oral tobacco the Commission refers to its answer to written question E-004917/20121.
The Commission’s answer to written question E-004917/20121:
27 June 2012
Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
The Commission foresees to adopt a proposal on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive(1) before the end of 2012. As such, the Commission has not taken a position on how to address oral tobacco (snus) or other smokeless tobacco products in the revision of this directive.
In the context of the impact assessment, the Commission is analysing the health risks posed by tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco. The Commission is aware of a number of studies issued after the 2008 opinion of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks and is analysing existing evidence e.g. on the use of smokeless tobacco in smoking cessation, the relative adverse health effects of smokeless tobacco and smokeless tobacco as a gateway to smoking. The Commission is considering these studies in the context of the impact assessment, which will be published together with the legislative proposal. The Commission is also analysing the economic, social and internal market impacts of various policy options to address smokeless tobacco(2).
(1) Directive 2001/37/EC, OJ L 194, 18.7.2001, p. 26.