EU ruling on smokeless tobacco shows need for independent tobacco regulation

Tuesday 07 September 2004

Media Release from ASH

Immediate Use: Tuesday 7th September  2004

EU ruling on smokeless tobacco shows need for independent tobacco regulation



The European law which currently makes a certain type of smokeless tobacco illegal, is likely to be upheld, according to an official opinion issued today by the EU’s Advocate General. [1]   The European Court of Justice will make a formal ruling on the subject within the next few months but the Advocate General’s preliminary opinion can be seen as a guide to the way the court is likely to rule on this matter.


The case was brought by Swedish Match, the principal producer of a type of oral snuff known as snus.  Under EU law, Sweden is the only country in the European Union where this form of smokeless tobacco is permitted.  Swedish Match challenged the law [2] arguing that it was discriminatory and unjustified given that   cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are more hazardous to health.


ASH believes the ruling demonstrates the need for a fundamental review of the way in which tobacco products are regulated within the EU.


Deborah Arnott, Director of ASH commented:


“The Advocate General’s opinion does little to resolve the contradictory, illogical law on tobacco which leaves cigarettes legal while snus, which is over 100 times less harmful, is banned.


Whatever the outcome of the European Court’ s final ruling, this case demonstrates the need for an independent tobacco regulatory body. One of the key roles of such a body would be to set standards for the levels of toxins and carcinogens in all nicotine products.  Additionally, the regulator should have powers to ensure that the promotion of all tobacco products is strictly controlled to prevent them being promoted to attract new users.”



– ENDS –


1 Statement from Advocate General / Swedish Match

2 The prohibition was originally introduced in 1992 by an amendment to the 1989 Directive.  Article 8  provided that: “Member States shall prohibit the placing on the market of tobacco for oral use as defined in Article 2(4)”. Article 2(4) defined  “tobacco for oral use” as “all products for oral use, except those intended to be smoked or chewed, made wholly or partly of tobacco, in powder or particulate form or in any combination of these forms – particularly those presented in sachet portions or porous sachets – or in a form resembling a food product.” This is now Article 8 of EU Directive 2001/37/EC.


CONTACT:          Deborah Arnott                        020 7739 5902 (w)  079 7693 5987 (m)