Friday, 13 May 2011 11:21

The EU Snus Ban Government Response “let them smoke cigarettes”

Written by Mick Hellwig
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Mick Hellwig to Brussels:  Leave Swedish Snus Alone! The European Union Sucks.  No, not the people who live there.  Some of my favorite people and products come from the EU.

I’m complaining about the controlling group that has decided to enforce a stupid law that bans sales of Swedish snus to EU member states; Sweden excepted.  Protecting the tax base on cigarettes is more important than protecting the health of an estimated 100 million EU smokers to the elite in Brussels. Many of these EU cigarette smokers would now be EU ex-smokers had the Tobacco Products Directive been written differently in 1992.

Several EU states are losing billions in tax revenues already due to cigarette smuggling. Goodness only knows what is contained in these Chinese, Russian, who knows where, manufactured cigarettes. At the very least we know what is in Swedish snus. We know the ingredients, we know the additives, we know the quality of the tobacco, i.e. not floor sweepings pressed together to make a sheet and then shredded into ribbons resembling tobacco. (On a side note, my long suffering wife cannot stand the smell of low end machine made cigars for exactly this reason. The glue used to hold together the binding makes her throat tighten and gives her difficulty breathing. A quality hand rolled cigar does not give her the same symptoms, even though she sometimes complains that it smells awful.)

For once when it comes to tobacco laws I can say I’m glad to only have to deal with the PACT Act and FDA regulations. I can still get snus, even if it costs more than it did a year ago.  The US government has not yet decided to ban snus, or any other non-smoked tobacco.

The Powers-That-Be in the E.U. justify their decision primarily based on some poor bushman in Africa whose lower jaw fell off after 30 years of putting tobacco mixed with Betel nuts in his lip.  To them, this established that Swedish snus is the work of the devil sent from Hell to seduce “The Children” into a life of crime and nicotine abuse.

Smokeless tobacco leads to drug abuse, government dependency, debauchery, and DEATH! It’s the Evil don’t you know! The reality is that the lit tobacco manufacturers; not the smokeless tobacco manufacturers, who are responsible for the smoking related health consequences and costs of tobacco.

Based on what we know today, cigarette manufacturers seem to be making a product designed to shorten the lives of their consumers, wreck their health, and essentially kill them off.

EU anti-snus extremists turn a blind eye to the above; especially the skyrocketing costs to their overburdened socialized medical systems, for no other reason than money:  tobacco tax money.  Despite all their complaining and about the negative health effects of evil tobacco, these extremists don’t have the will power to ban especially cigarettes and live without the tax revenues.

Instead they go after the low hanging fruit of Swedish snus to prove their so-called compassion for EU citizens.

The Anti-tobacco extremists claim that tobacco use is in major decline, based on legal sales and tax income. What they conveniently don’t consider is the massive amount of black market tobacco that is smuggled in the dark of night across the beaches or unwatched borders.

They have done such a good job of ostracizing smokers that when asked, people deny the use of lit tobacco products.

Smokeless tobacco
users are even harder to tally, as there are no telltale signs, no smoke smell, no ashes on their clothes, nor used butts littering the ground around their front doors.  The official numbers of tobacco users seems to hover around 20% of the population. Whether in the US or EU the numbers are about the same. I would bet that the true numbers are between 30 and 40 percent.

Back to my original points; what is it about non smoked tobacco that puts these nannies and do-gooders in such a tizzy? Is it just that I’m enjoying myself in a way that they can’t easily be offended by? There is virtually no way they can say that my use of snus, snuff or dip harms them or “The Children” in any way.  OK I’ll grant that spitting on the sidewalk or tossing a used portion out the window of one’s car is gross, uncalled for and uncouth but at the minimum spit dries and tobacco is biodegradable in a short period of time, unlike the nasty butt of a cigarette.

So why is the controlling body of the European Union is so against snus?  I refuse to buy the story that Skoal Bandits of the 1980’s were so evil and unhealthy. I used Bandits back then and while they were a pretty awful tasting product I don’t know of anyone who had any adverse health effects not in line with any other American oral tobacco product. (In fact I have never met anyone who had any form of oral cancer or tooth loss from dip/snuff use, but I’ve heard anecdotal stories and seen them on the internet.) It has been well documented that alcohol abuse is much more likely to cause all kinds of health problems.  Oral, pancreatic and throat cancers are all more prevalent in drinkers than smoke free tobacco users.

I think it’s mainly about control. Tobacco Control isn’t really about controlling tobacco, it’s about controlling YOU! It’s about telling you what you can and can’t do with your own body or in your own house or car. I realize as an American I have a slightly different view on personal liberty than my European cousins, but people living in the EU cannot believe that the government has the right or responsibility to dictate every action, especially the use of legal products, can they?  I won’t even grant they have the duty to inform us that over eating, excessive consumption of alcohol, or smoking is bad for us. Every doctor and health advocacy group does that without government involvement unless you count government funding for the studies that proved such things.

Why can’t the EU parliament look at the same studies we all have? (You have read them, right?) Study after study, “Peer Reviewed” ones even, show time and again that non smoked tobacco is 99% less hazardous than cigarettes. That evidence is ignored, simply because it does not line up with what those with the money and emotional pleas want to see. We tobacco users are truly a mostly silent minority. No matter how loud a few of us yell, it’s drowned out by the screeching voices arrayed against us.

On the up side, the EU ban on snus being enforced may be a boon for American snus users.

Sure we have issues with PACT and the FDA regulating tobacco, but it is legal to sell here. With the EU out of the picture for at least 18 months or so, America is the next big untapped market. With 45,000,000 admitted smokers and another 20,000,000 smokeless tobacco users, we the consumer are a huge money making opportunity.

We are seeing the beginnings of Swedish manufacturers cautiously dipping their toes in the market. To my mind this needs to speed up. It will also require a group of people who believe in these products to do the work to spread the word.  Despite all the advertising RJR and Altria have done, snus is still not a launch and forget product in the US.

This is especially true Swedish snus. I have heard all kinds of untruths about snus in the few shops around here that carry it. Some understandable, some just plain BS.  All is easily countered by the right people.  A dumb customer like me has no influence.

A sales rep, with a company name behind him, has the ear of the shop owner. One tobacco shop in my area calls me the “snus guy” but still won’t change their mind about snus. To them it’s just dip and only poor dumb rednecks use oral tobacco especially compared to the smart, sophisticated guys who smoke $20 cigars or $500 pipes. Shop owners like that will never change their minds and will lose customers as the economy continues to tank. Joe the electrician who is tired of paying $5-$10 a pack for cigs and wouldn't be caught with a lip full of dip and a spit cup, but still needs to get nicotine, are ripe for conversion.

So to sum up, the EU has screwed many of our friends and possibly ruined a few businesses. This chaps my butt as much as PACT killing American tobacco business. I hope that reason prevails; I also hope to see that day in the very near future.

In the mean time all Swedish snus makers need to pay attention to the US market. I want HUGE snus fridges in every convenience store in America. I want to see every brand on my top 50 list sold at my corner market. I want my oldest daughter to stop smoking Black and Milds and switch back to snus, she won’t do that until she can buy it over the counter as easily as she did when Triumph snus was around. I want snus to be the majority tobacco product used in the US.  None of that will happen without the proper marketing by people who passionately believe in the product.

It is the American thing to do.

MICK HELLWIGFounding Member of SnusCentral.org and damn proud of it!

Snuff Takers Ephemeris Magazine
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Read 5152 times Last modified on Saturday, 09 November 2013 03:08

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