Monday, 27 June 2016 16:00

Brexit to the EU Snus Ban!

Written by Larry Waters
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In a historic referendum on 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union.  The ramifications of Brexit, both the good and the bad, have been the leading discussion topic in the UK, the EU, and around much of the world ever since. 

As a Swedish Snus Ambassador, my first thought was "does this mean Swedish snus is (or will be) legal to purchase in the UK?".  Let's take a look at that.....

Does the EU Snus Ban apply to the UK post-Brexit?

No Snus Ban in the UK after BrexitIn a word, no.  Once the UK completes the process to withdraw from the EU and become a sovereign nation again, EU rules and regulations won't apply unless the UK adopts some of them as their own.  This includes the Snus Ban.

The UK is still officially an EU Member State.  Sweden will abide by the current EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and not allow the sale or export of Swedish snus to the UK as long as this remains the case.

To begin the withdrawal process, the UK Government must invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty formally telling the EU they're leaving.

Once this occurs, the EU and UK will have two years to negotiate the divorce, monies owed to either party, trade policy and all the rest.  Like the next US President dealing with the plethora of President Obama's Executive Orders, the UK will have to go through the thousands of EU regulations which currently apply and decide which ones to dump and which ones it wishes to make a part of UK regulatory statutes.

The EU Snus Ban which prohibits Swedish snus from being sold to citizens of EU nations would have no further relevancy to the UK.  That does not mean that, however unlikely, the UK could not itself ban the sale or import of Swedish snus.

In the late 1980's, UK Anti-All-Tobacco Extremists, helped by the ineptness of tobacco manufacturer USST, led a successful battle to ban Skoal Bandits.  Alleged bribery to allow the Skoal factory to be built in Scotland, TV commercials implying Skoal Bandits were safer than cigarettes, ads allegedly targeting youth; all contributed to USST shooting itself in the foot.

Factually, Skoal Bandits were not then and are not now snus but pouched smokeless tobacco.  The distinction may seem small, but consider that traditional chewing tobacco, loose tobacco, sold for pipes and cigarettes, or snuff taken by the nose were not affected by the UK ban; stopping Skoal Bandit "dipping" was.

If the UK were to consider a ban against today's Swedish Snus, it would be much tougher to justify; impossible if science, the public health and logic were the only factors used.  This probably won't stop current UK Anti-All-Tobacco Extremists from trying, but I personally doubt they will have any real chance of succeeding.

Under this scenario, in or around 2018 the UK would cease to be a Member State of the EU.  Snus sellers in Sweden would then be free to take orders from and ship Swedish snus to the UK.

With the UK out of the EU free trade zone, expect tariffs, taxes and higher shipping costs.  UK snusers will finally have the freedom to buy snus direct from Sweden, but it will come at a price.

Freedom often does.

LARRY WATERSOfficial Seal of the Swedish Snus Ambassador to the USA

Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting From Sweden and the USA for

Read 5218 times Last modified on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 16:37

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