Norway Faces The Threat of An Online Snus Sales Ban

The Norwegian government wants to ban the online sales of snus, as part of a new tobacco strategy, a move which for obvious reasons experts are calling counterproductive.

Norway’s new tobacco strategy was included in a public health report released on March 31st. Secretary General of the Association of Swedish Snus Manufacturers Patrik Strömer, said that many of the restrictions mentioned in this tobacco strategy are similar to the ones implemented in Sweden and have likely contributed to Sweden’s renowned success with decreasing smoking rates. However, he added, the factor that made these measures successful in Sweden is the availability of smoke-free alternatives such as snus and nicotine pouches.

Stromer is referring to the fact that Sweden has reached an impressive Smokefree status thanks to endorsing the use of safer nicotine alternatives, namely snus. Sadly Norway seems to be ignoring this very crucial detail and is instead asking for harsher regulations on the products.

Sweden’s impressive results thanks to snus
Subsequently, a more recent report highlighted that in the coming months the smoking rate in Sweden will be dropping below 5% and details the approach which led to this success. Anders Milton, one of the report’s authors, highlighted that if other EU countries copied Sweden’s strategy, the situation in Europe would look different.

Last October, Norway’s Health Minister approved a health label warning pregnant women on the dangers of using snus whilst expecting. The label listing the side effects of using snus during pregnancy was approved by Ingvild Kjerkol (AP), Norway’s Minister for Health and Care Services who said that there have been issues with many young women starting with snus, as they are unable to stop when they become pregnant.

The repercussions of banning safer alternatives
Meanwhile, Sweden has faced its own attacks on tobacco harm reduction. Last March Sweden’s Ministry of Social Affairs announced plans of a vape flavour ban. An announcement which has certainly taken many by surprise, especially given Sweden’s otherwise progressive attitude towards the use of snus as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Discussing this event, director of the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) Michael Landl, had explained that if the measure goes into effect, the 150,000 former smokers in Sweden who are now vaping instead, could be forced to switch back to smoking.

To this effect the WVA had held yet another protest, with the group marching in front of Parliament with the slogan “Flavours help smokers quit” during parliament’s session and delivered an open letter to members of parliament to urge them to vote against the ban.

In a press release, Landl had that the ban would have dire consequences on public health. He quoted a study by Yale School of Public Health, which found that vaping flavoured vapes was associated with a 230% increase in the odds of adult smoking cessation. “If vape flavours were banned, more than 150.000 swedes could be pushed back to smoking, which goes against any public health authority,” he said. Finally Sweden’s lawmakers voted against the ban and the measure was dropped.