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New tobacco law could cause snus shortage

Published torsdag 28 april 2016 kl 16.00
Swedish Match: Hard to adjust in under four weeks
(1:41 min)
Snusdosa fylld med snus.
Snus packaging needs new labelling by May 20th. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

A new law forcing manufacturers to change labelling on tobacco products may lead to a shortage of snus - the moist tobacco that is placed under the upper lip and that is popular in Sweden.

Snus manufacturers have until May 20th to introduce the changes, but say they have been given too short notice and will not be able to produce the new packaging by next month.

“It’s hard for a business to adjust operations in just under four weeks, so my short answer is that I don’t think we’ll be able to meet that date,” said Patrik Hildingsson, head of communications at snus manufacturing company Swedish Match.

The new labelling requirements are the result of an EU-wide directive for tobacco products, which says health warnings must take up bigger space on packaging.

Josefin Jonsson, head of the Swedish Public Health Agency’s division for Alcohol and Tobacco Supervision, explained the reason why Swedish snus manufacturers have been given such short notice is because the EU rules were only incorporated into Swedish law earlier this month.

“They've also announced common rules for the labels so that they will look the same across all EU member states," Jonsson added.

Sweden is the only EU country where the sale of snus is legal. Because it must be stored in refrigerators in order to be kept fresh, supermarkets tend to keep a low stock of the product. That means a halt in delivery could lead to empty shelves – and that is why manufacturers are warning of a shortage.

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