Sweden’s Opportunity to Fight The Proposed EU-Wide Tax 

A draft document by the European Commission has indicated that the European Union will be proposing an EU-wide vape tax as part of an amendment on tobacco taxes. A leaked draft of the proposal suggests that the union wants to force Sweden to raise the local snus tax aswell.

Until now, the tobacco tax situation in the EU has been fragmented, as different member states have imposed various tax rates on different products. And while vaping products are regulated under the Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) with regards to the health aspect of things, there is still no EU-wide tax framework in place for them. In 2017, the European Commission (EC) had asked for consultations about a proposed revision of the Tobacco Excise Directive (TED), which would have included such a tax.

To this effect a tax proposal seeing the EU’s minimum excise tax on cigarettes raised from €1.80 to €3.60 per pack of 20 has been released. Sadly, the tax is also being proposed for safer alternatives such as vapes, and leaked documents indicate that the plan is to force Sweden to set in place the tax on snus at an unreasonable level.

In a press release, founder of the EUforsnus movement (@EU4snus on Twitter) Bengt Wiberg explained that the group will now start using hashtags #VetoEUsnusmurder, #EUsnusmurder& #StopEUsnusmurder, and is getting in touch with harm reduction entities to draw attention to the matter.

The leaked document indicates that if the proposal becomes reality, a can of general loose snus would cost over SEK 120, increasing by approximately SEK 62 compared to today. Patrik Hildingsson, head of communications at Swedish Match, believes this extra tax is unacceptable. “The already heavily taxed Swede seems to tolerate a high degree of patronage. But here I think we are actually crossing the line,” he said.

Why a heavy tax on snus would be detrimental
Snus is a moist powder tobacco product that is placed under the upper lip for extended periods. It is mostly popular in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, however it is only legal in Sweden where it is considered an effective tobacco harm reduction product. In fact, snus has not only led to Sweden boasting the lowest smoking rates in Europe, but more importantly, also to reporting the lowest rates of lung cancer across the continent.

To this effect, Bengt believes that the Swedish government who has previously fought hard for Sweden to be autonomous with regards to any decision based on snus regulations, and is pro tobacco harm reduction, can and will veto this proposal.