The irony here is that Sweden and Norway are two of the most notorious 'nanny-states' in the world. Sweden is known for engineering an overnight 'left-side-of-the-road' to "right-side-of-the-road" transition for drivers in the seventies without one accident. The Swedish "nanny-state" has also created world class quality control of food products, where snus lies in their world, and it is not the nature of their government to ignore empirical evidence and warn consumers about a non-existent threat to public health.
Now here's the rub. The New York Times reported recently that US food companies (Kraft, PepsiCo, ConAgra, Unilever, General Mills, Tyson) were banding together to create a "Smart Choices" green seal for mass-market products which would show consumers at a glance that products so-marked were of a high nutritional standard.
'Froot Loops' makes the cut!
The PhD they found to run the program, Eileen Kennedy of Tufts University, maintains that the guidelines are based on those set by the government (remember the food pyramid? In the 1950's it was presented to the American people as the way to eat. It was really meant to increase US consumption of processed products to jump-start American post-war mass-farming). Dr. Kennedy also mentions the fact that consumers 'don't want to be dictated to.' The fear is that this could legitimize highly sweetened, high sodium processed products as "good-for-you" choices. This includes products such as Froot Loops, which is simply processed sugar, flour, salt, coloring and preservatives, until they artificially add in the vitamins.
So, as an American, I am told that Froot Loops are good for me by a label from a paid-members-only manufacturers' consortium, and that snus will kill me by a label from my government. I'm truly living in an ass-backwards world. If I weren't me, I would believe all of it.
It's a dangerous world for the consumer. It's one where doctors are influenced by big-Pharma bonuses to over-prescribe medicines whose advertising on TV makes one wish for death over the laundry list of side effects, including "premature death," which may result from taking them. It's one where smoking-cessation aids are designed to fail in order to keep smokers coming back through campaigns trading off guilt (24/7 'support') with loyalty schemes and contests. It's one where they want consumers to shell out $190 for remastered Beatles album boxes with only 5 total minutes of recording-error correction, and whose benefits over the 1987 CD's are so subtle, they will not be heard on an iPod or similar portable systems due to MP3's limited sampling capabilities.
My advice to consumers? Take a deep breath and relax. Eat and prepare real food (meat (red in moderation), fish, colored vegetables), have a few glasses of red wine, stay active physically, and do real research. Real Snus is the real deal for smokers, but no one will ever say so.
My advice to tobacco companies? Add vitamin A and riboflavin to your smokeless products, and put a 'green seal' on your snus. Why not?
Live from New York on SnusCENTRAL.org