The Political Market

  • EUflags

The new draft for a EU tobacco directive is due in time for christmas. Seldom has the political, and lobbying game been so obvious, and ridiculous.

Smokers are already harassed in most of the Union. The argument being both paternalistic and the so-called “Environmental Tobacco Smoke”, or Second Hand Smoking. As for the former, the health hazards of smoking are unquestionable. The latter is scientifically most questionable. Possibly, the most tangible health effect of chasing people outdoors for a smoke is the risk of pneumonia in this horrid winter.

But the big issue this time is possibly more symbolic; the effort to battle the peculiar product “Snus”, aka Swedish Snus, or wet snuff. Follow the thread here, or any newspaper the next days.

This is prohibited, for some reason, in the entire Union, except for Sweden. Simple as that, you might think, because the exception was granted as a part of the membership. You might add that there are similar exceptions for other countries. 

The health hazards of this product are virtually nil (but be careful when you kiss someone), so the new move is to prohibit flavoring. Why flavoring should be hazardous during or after use, escapes me. May I put sugar in my coffee?

And the game is on. One commissioner has already been forced to resign, after alleged bribes from the snus-lobby.

This lobby argues, quite reasonably, that the product is useful for anyone trying to quit smoking.

On the other hand, this is a threat to cigarette manufacturers.

And to the pharmaceutical manufacturers of nicotine alternatives.

And hey, imagine the money circulating in this farce.

I should point out that I don’t get any of it, but I proudly admit to take pleasure in tobacco. And remain careful not to harm my environment.

And maybe a little detail might be of interest. Snus can be sold and purchased all over Europe, the product coming mostly from Northern Africa and India. However, it has to be labeled Chewing Tobacco.

Categories

About the Author: Einar Du Rietz

Einar Du Rietz is a journalist and communications consultant based in Europe. He has authored several environmental reports for the Electrolux Group and written many blogs for the Center for the New Europe at CNE Environment.