The Free Society
Friday June 1, 2012
Like most people outside of Scandinavia, you’ve probably never heard of the product, but the threat of ‘snus’ facing backdoor prohibition was making all the headlines in Sweden last month.
Snus – which simply means ‘snuff’ in Swedish – is finely cut tobacco in a small sachet which Swedes have been placing under their top lip for more than two centuries. The product had largely fallen out of fashion by the 1960s. But when the dangers of smoking became widely understood, consumers started to abandon cigarettes and revert to snus.
This form of smokeless tobacco has been in the prohibitionist firing-line before. Snus was banned by the European Commission in 1992 as a result of fears that oral snuff – especially the infamous ‘Skoal Bandits’ – caused mouth cancer. So popular had the product become with Swedes by this time that securing an opt-out from the ban was a deal-breaker when they joined the EU three years later. The EU duly gave them an exemption and the Swedish referendum went in favour of accession by the narrow margin of 52% to 48%. Numerous studies have since found no association between snus and oral cancer and, in 2001, the European Commission acknowledged that the product is not carcinogenic. Prohibition in the rest of the EU, however, remains in place. [Read More]