The EU region-wide snus sale ban has been in existence since 1992 and still affects all EU countries with the sole exception of Sweden. The ban was put into effect in response to the introduction of Skoal, the US smokeless tobacco brand. Skoal Bandits sales did not go very far. The EU parliament, with the support of the World Health Organisation, later came up with snus laws that saw the ban of all oral tobacco products across the EU. Snus are otherwise generally legal, although the Canadian FDA imposes a very heavy import duty on them in an attempt to discourage consumption.
Embracing the ban
The tobacco industry did not oppose the snus ban because they were less interested in smokeless tobacco, and their tobacco business was still in its novice state. Sweden was lucky to have escaped the ban since it was not yet part of the European Union – not until 1995. Their largest smokeless tobacco producer was also based in Sweden at the time, and they continued with production. In conformity to the global ban of snus, Ireland, followed by the United Kingdom and Belgium, became the first countries to embrace the ban. This followed the introduction of another law – the nicotine pouches laws.
In 1989 ETOC, UST and Swedish Match took a stand to educate the public about smokeless tobacco products as well as promoting its industry. They conducted dialogues with advisory bodies, retailers and the media to create awareness of the products. To date, Swedish Match is still urging regulatory bodies to regulate nicotine products according to their risk outline. The company argues that smokeless products play a role in the responsible transition of cigarette consumers to harmless smokeless products such as snus and nicotine pouches. They hope to see the global standards of their products being treated with similar principles as regulation of food.