Leaked Documents Indicate EU Plans to Ban Nicotine Pouches 

A report by the European Commission (EC) leaked last week, indicates that the European Union (EU) is completely ignoring the success achieved by Sweden thanks to snus, and is not only praising the EU-wide snus ban for its alleged success, but is also recommending that it is extended to nicotine pouches.

A distressing post on X by MEP Charlie Weimers, has indicated just how out of touch the EC is. A leaked report by the Commission boasts about the EU wide snus ban, and its alleged success, hence fully ignoring the fact that Sweden has only reached its smoke-free goal thanks to being exempt from this ban.

To add insult to injury, the EC goes on to suggest that the current snus ban is extended to nicotine pouches. In response, World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) director Michael Landl, highlighted the commission’s obliviousness.

“Swedish smoke-free success is not a miracle — it is a result of the nation-wide evidence-based policy in support of the less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Since the world started celebrating Swedish success in reaching the 5% smoke-free goal, all eyes went on the EU as a driver of harm reduction and innovation. If the EU Commission moves on to further extend the snus ban to nicotine pouches, it will not only jeopardise its own smoke-free goals but will put smoking-cessation efforts under threat worldwide,” said Landl.

The EU snus ban
The EU ban on snus has a complex history that dates back several decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, Sweden negotiated an exemption from the EU’s ban on oral tobacco products, allowing it to continue producing and selling snus within its borders. This unique status was based on the argument that snus was a less harmful alternative to smoking.

Come the 90s, and as the EU expanded it sought to harmonize tobacco regulations across member states. The resulting EU Tobacco Directive was introduced in 1992, and it  banned the sale of snus in all member states except Sweden, hence making this exemption somewhat more official.

In 2001, the EU expanded further, leading to concerns about the potential introduction of snus in new member states where was virtually unknown. In 2014 the EU revised its Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), maintaining the ban on snus sales outside of Sweden while introducing stricter packaging and labeling regulations for all tobacco products, including snus.

In recent years, there have been discussions and legal challenges surrounding the ban on snus in the EU. The Union has attempted to pressure Sweden to ban and/or restrict the product, however tobacco harm reduction experts as well as Swedish MEPs, have consistently fought back, citing the scientific evidence and data from Sweden confirming the relative harm reduction potential of snus.

Nicotine pouches appear to be even safer than snus
Meanwhile, studies have found that Nicotine Pouches contain even less toxicants than snus. A 2021 study featured in Drug and Chemical Toxicology examined the levels of toxic compounds in Nicotine Pouches (NPs) and compared them with both snus and nicotine replacement therapy products (NRTs).

The study, titled “Chemical characterization of tobacco-free ‘modern’ oral nicotine pouches and their position on the toxicant and risk continuums,” scrutinized NPs for 24-26 compounds relevant to oral tobacco.

The findings revealed that Swedish snus have significantly lower health risks than cigarettes. While NPs exhibited lower levels of 10 harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) and undetectable levels of 13 others than snus. This renders them among the tobacco/nicotine products with the least toxicant content and relative exposure estimates.

To this effect, the researchers concluded that Nicotine Pouches expose users to fewer toxic compounds than Swedish snus and should therefore be positioned closely to NRTs on the continuum of tobacco/nicotine product toxicity.

Similarly, a 2022 study commissioned by British American Tobacco (BAT) examining the impact of BAT’s nicotine pouches: Velo, found significant improvements in several biomarkers of exposure and harm-related biomarkers among smokers who switched exclusively to the pouches.