NNA Snus ECJ Case

Posted 22nd January 2018 by Dave Cross
Professor Gerry Stimson, chair of the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), is set to attend the European Court of Justice on 25th January as the push to overturn the ban on snus in European Union countries reaches a new important milestone.

The NNA argue: “snus fulfils the criteria for a tobacco harm reduction product. It is a low risk way of using nicotine and delivers acceptable doses to those who use it. In countries in which it is allowed it is popular and has contributed to declines in smoking and smoking related diseases.” Snus is a moist, smokeless powdered tobacco. It is sold as a loose powder or pre-packaged in a small sachet.

Gerry Stimson previously said: “Snus is a popular and effective harm reduction product. But the sale of snus is banned in the EU, except in Sweden. The TPD was bad for e-cigarettes, but worse for snus. The EU continued with the ban despite huge evidence for the safety and impact of snus, and despite the overwhelming view of consumers who told the EC that the snus ban should be lifted.”

Case number = C-151/17 will be heard and the NNA will be given the opportunity to present its case, along with the five other parties who have expressed an interest. Spectators better not blink though as the NNA’s lawyer is restricted to a maximum of fifteen minutes to lay out all of the arguments and evidence.

In response to the news that 22 Conservative MPs urged Jeremy Hunt to take positive action last year and legalise snus, Stimson added: “There’s now a race to see whether European judges or British politicians will lift the ban first. They realise that with British men smoking four times as much as Swedish men we cannot justify continuing the ban on snus. If the European Court doesn’t do it first, I hope that when Brexit happens the bonfire of regulations will begin with this stupid ban on the world’s most successful safer alternative to smoking.”

The NNA write: “The case was originally brought by Swedish Match. The New Nicotine Alliance asked to be joined to this case because it concerns the health of smokers in the European Union. It is not about markets and commerce, but about the right to be able to choose a safer alternative to smoking. For the NNA this case is about whether some 320,000 premature deaths from smoking can be saved in future years, as detailed by Dr Lars Ramström in his statement to the court.”

“The denial of access to lower risk snus leads to unnecessary deaths. The NNA believes that smokers have a right to safer nicotine products as alternatives to smoking and the right to make choices that help them avoid adverse health outcomes.”

“The core of the NNA’s case is that the ban on snus is both disproportionate and contrary to the right to health. There is no need for the ban, and the ban, if upheld, will continue to contribute to excess mortality from smoking in Europe.”

“This is the first time that a ‘right to health’ argument has been used to challenge a bad tobacco law: we argue that the Court needs to examine the compatibility of the Tobacco Products Directive with both the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the harm reduction obligation under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”

“The test case scenario for the impact of snus on health is Sweden. The Swedish experience shows that snus is of little harm and, importantly, that using snus has led to the lowest death rates from tobacco related disease in Europe.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker