Norway’s Imminent Tobacco Restrictions Exclude a Snus Ban

Norwegian health minister Ingvild Kjerkol is about to release a new public health report containing several proposed tobacco restrictions. Yet, despite pressure from the European Union, a snus ban is not among the proposals.

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.

In Norway, comments from politicians ahead of the public health report’s release had suggested that a ban on flavoured snus was on the table, and public health experts were concerned. “If flavoured snus is banned, we risk seeing a rise in smoking prevalence again. And we don’t want that,” Karl Erik Lund of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health told the Verdens Gang (VG) newspaper in early March

However, the Dagbladet newspaper has just reported that the ban is no longer being considered. Between 2005 and 2018, snus use in Norway increased from 5% to 12%, and just like in Sweden, this has led to a significant decrease in smoking rates. In Norway’s case, from 25% to 12%.

Sweden’s success by endorsing snus use
Meanwhile, another recent report highlighted that in the coming months Sweden’s smoking rate will be dropping below 5%, a percentage which is globally considered as equating to being “smokefree.” Sweden is known for having reached this status thanks to adopting a harm reduction strategy in a favour of a forbidding stance by endorsing the use of safer nicotine alternatives for smoking cessation, namely snus.

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. “Quitting smoking like Sweden saves lives,” said Milton. “It has annually saved more than 3,400 lives in Sweden. If all other EU countries did as Sweden did, 3.5 million lives could be saved in the coming decade in the EU alone.”