When did the EU Ban Swedish Snus Take Effect?
It hasn't; at least not yet. The pending review of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which could lead to a possible EU ban on Swedish snus is not the cause of yesterdays unprecedented action. As SnusCentral.org guest columnist Dr. Lars Erik Rutqvist related in his recent article concerning the EU snus ban, current EU tobacco laws are often unclear and conflicting.
This tobacco legislative mess within the EU is what allegedly allowed the take-down of SnusWorldWide on customs and smuggling violations. Will this ruling stand? Does this whole episode violate the EU founding principle of free trade among EU Member Nations? More interestedly, how will this incident affect the outcome of the new EU Tobacco Products Directive?
SnusCIA sources in Finland have confirmed that Snus World Wide AB was the only store targeted in Sweden....at least as of now. SnusWorldWide.com was the largest of the very few eStores who still mailed snus to retail customers in Finland; a violation of Finnish trade policy and law.
This would explain why this is a court issue begun by Finland and not a Brussels- sponsored action. If true, this could very well mean normal snus eCommerce to EU countries which permit it could resume quickly. One 3rd tier Swedish snus manufacturer, GN Tobacco, has already announced publicly that they will and in some cases have already begin selling and shipping their product directly to EU consumers until this matter is sorted out. One would hope that their lawyers had vetted this idea before they went public with it.
As we plow through the tangled mess of EU and individual EU Member laws, rules and regulations, a disturbing alternative has come to light. It is entirely possible that for the last 2 years, shipments of Swedish snus EU to EU has been banned. GN Tobacco offered a convoluted reading of Swedish Import/Export law based on whether the change of a word from "export" to "exit" changes the meaning of the Swedish law. Since this change really have anything directly to do with the EU tobacco products directive, it remains to be seen how and if GN Tobacco can legally justify their sales of Swedish snus from Sweden into the EU.
In any event, the new EU Tobacco Products Directive has not secretly gone into effect or even been completed. The three options the EU polled on; banning shipment of Swedish snus within the EU, allowing shipment of Swedish snus, or just leaving everything the way it is today (which grows more obtuse by the minute), are still on the table.
Swedish Snus Store Reactions
A quick survey of the top Swedish snus retail websites this morning confirmed that none allowed the sale of snus from Sweden to shoppers located in EU Member nations. Until this is all sorted out, it may be the Swedish snus industry enacted this EU snus ban on its own; choosing to err on the side of cautious. The other possibility is that Big Swedish Snus knows something which apparently GN Tobacco doesn't know or is ignoring. For all the Swedish Snus eStores to go dark in the EU, there must have been compelling justifications...and they have lawyers too.
The ramifications for the Swedish and Scandinavian snus industry are unknown but not looking particularly rosy concerning the EU at this point. Unless Sweden or the EU takes another drastic action, it may well be some time before we have a definitive answer on this question of EU to EU snus sales. If this drags on long enough, the new EU TPD when enacted will establish the answer for the next 10-15 years. As for Finland, the air there will be much thicker thanks to all the new/returning cigarette smokers. Hope the alleged "anti-cancer" organization is happy.
The SnusCIA is still unable to prove that France is involved in this anti-snus / anti-Sweden activity but eventually they are confident they will find something.
Reporting from the SnusCENTRAL Bunker,
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org