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Political blunder behind ban on snus flavour label

Published onsdag 4 februari 2015 kl 16.59
Girl using snus. Photo: Robert Henriksson/TT.
Girl using snus. Photo: Robert Henriksson/TT.

A political blunder in the EU led to the tobacco directive's wording that now looks like it will prevent Swedish snus manufacturers from stating the flavour of the snus on the packaging. A former MEP suggests Sweden shall just ignore the rule, which he calls a "mistake".

It's the government's own legal expert that has concluded that when the EU tobacco directive is included into Swedish law, the Swedish snus will no longer be allowed to label which flavour it has.

Snus is classed as a specific Swedish product by the EU, and thus it is exempt from the part of the directive that regulates which flavours tobacco products may contain. But there is no exemption when it comes to the labelling of the product, and so the legal expert, who was presented his report to the government today, has come to the conclusion that no reference can be made on the packaging to the flavour of the snus.

But Carl Schlyter from the Green Party, previously a member of the European Parliament, was among those who negotiated the tobacco directive.

"It was not included in the wording and that was a mistake, and we noticed it before the vote, but then there was not sufficient enough support for starting all over again. People were afraid that everything else would have to be re-done, so then this was not changed," he told Swedish Radio News.

But doesn't Sweden have to follow what it actually says in the directive? Asks the reporter.

"No because we were all agreed that this is how it would be interpreted and if we would do it differently, I don't think that the commission would sue us," he said.

"It would be extremely unlikely and politically stupid by the commission to take us to court if we are now deciding this by ourselves, just like everybody promised us," Schlyter said.

He is backed up by the Moderate Party MEP Christoffer Fjellner, who also speaks about a mistake.
"I was there and legislated about this and tried to put things right, but it was felt that there was no time and the problem was seen to be too insignificant," he told Swedish Radio News. Fjellner as well thinks that Swedish snus manufacturers can continue to label the packages with the flavour of the snus, despite what it actually says in the directive.

Snus is a popular wet oral tobacco, which is put under the lip.

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