Tobacco Warning Labels Lie
Cigarettes kill. They are highly carcinogenic and also contain addictive nicotine. Of that there is no factual dispute.
Swedish Snus is a spitless oral tobacco product. It is pasteurized and highly regulated for the last 46 years by the Swedish National Food Agency; Sweden's version of the US FDA.
In April of 2016, the Swedish National Food Agency went a step even further toward snus consumer safety by enacting new tougher food product regulations for undesirable substances in Swedish Snus.
Meanwhile, there are no documented cases directly tying Swedish snus to any cancer deaths. Swedish Snus has an equivalent harm level to French Roast Coffee. Swedish snus is 99% less harmful to a smoker than cigarettes. Of that there is also no factual dispute.
Swedish Snus also contains nicotine, thank God. If not, millions of nicotine-addicted former cigarette smokers would have never been able to stop smoking. I am one of these lucky ones and have been cigarette-free for nine years now.
Unfortunately, in politics and Big Business, the facts are secondary. Money makes the world go around and cigarettes are incredibly profitable both to Big Tobacco and to the governments who can punitively tax the product based on the sickness and death cigarettes cause.
In reality, if every cigarette smoker in the world suddenly quit, nations would fall. Without the trillions of dollars in cigarette tax revenue, the world economy would collapse within 6 months.
At the same time, governments need to publicly posture on how strongly they oppose the harm tobacco does…. even if it means painting every tobacco product including smokeless tobacco and vapor products with the same broad brush which applies only to cigarettes.
If the warning for particular tobacco products are inaccurate or misleading, no matter. So long as it keeps the tax money flowing in while diverting the public's attention from scientific fact and the real issues, mission accomplished.
If the EU and FDA put as much effort into eradicating cigarettes as they do on much less harmful snus and vapor nicotine alternatives, millions would not sicken and die and billions of dollars would be saved in smoking-related health care costs.
EU Imposes Faulty Snus Warning Label Requirements on Sweden
Swedish snus manufacturers are now legally required to have two health warnings on each snus can. Also in compliance with the new legislation, the nicotine levels of the products cannot be displayed on the labelling of unit packets and hence will be removed from the table of contents.
The new wording of the warning on the snus cans will be: ”Denna tobaksprodukt skadar hälsan och är beroendeframkallande”. Translated this says "This tobacco product damages your health and is addictive".
Under the new legislation, the two largest areas of the can need to be covered by a warning text with the same wording as stated above. This means the top and bottom of the cans.
For American snus users, this means two additional FDA warning labels must also be added to the snus cans; either by the manufacturers or the retailers. How you are going to be able to tell what snus is in a can plastered with labels remains to be seen. See the examples above.
What is certain is that Swedish snus cans; works of art in their own right for hundreds of years, will be effectively painted over with inaccurate, misleading, and ugly government labels.
What is certain that these warning labels will deter current nicotine-addicted smokers from trying snus as a healthier alternative to cigarettes.
Until August 31, snus cans with the old labels can still legally be delivered to the stores, but most snus manufacturers have already begun to produce products with the updated warnings. US-required top and side warning labels have already been mandated since 2009.
The transition to the new EU approved cans will be complete by 31 August 2016. Snus cans with the old warning labels produced before August 31 2016 may be sold in stores until May 20 2017.
Well congratulations, then, Swedish Parliament. The ugly new snus cans with unnecessary warnings will be your monument.
Never mind that Swedish snus is banned in all EU member nations except Sweden, which means Brussels is writing domestic Swedish policy and law. How very, very, sad for a once very proud nation. I"m guessing we won't see a SwExit movement any time soon either; too confrontational for Swedish politicians.
Meanwhile, back at the FDA....
As for the United States, Swedish snus is still required to carry essentially the same warning labels as cigarettes. Only one of these four FDA warning labels is true for Swedish snus: nicotine is addictive.
In 2014 Swedish Match submitted a Modified Risk Tobacco Product Application (MRTPA) for General Snus. Swedish Match was petitioning to have the warning labels for General Snus altered to reflect the reduced harm health reality of their products.
The General Snus MRTPA took over two years to create to FDA standards. After submission, two public comment periods, countless hearings, committee meetings, and thousands of pages of additional required information, the General Snus MRTPA is still languishing on someone's desk at the FDA Center for Tobacco Products for almost another two years.
By statute, FDA was required to rule on the General Snus MRTPA by August 2015 but that would mean laws apply to our own government too....
So enjoy and celebrate your Swedish Snus...if you can tell what's in the can.
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting From Sweden and the USA for SnusCENTRAL.org