Vice Squad
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Old Snus News: EU Ban Upheld

Wouldn't you know it, the European Court of Justice waits until I am away from Chicago to issue its ruling that the EU ban (outside of Sweden) on the smokeless tobacco "snus" can remain in place. So I get the snus news nearly a month late, though to be honest, the mid-December ruling wasn't unexpected. While I believe that snus should be legal and that the EU policy should be liberalised, I generally am wary of using free trade commitments to trump vice policy.

A Swedish researcher commented on the decision in a more timely fashion. Here's an excerpt:
The ban on snus is in stark contrast with the rest of the EU's tobacco policy. Forms of smokeless tobacco that are more harmful than snus are allowed to be sold in the EU. But, as mentioned above, the ban against snus was made before Sweden joined the union in 1995. Thus it seemed as the perfect progressive anti-tobacco policy, banning a product that was not used in the union, but still not antagonizing anyone.

About 300,000 tonnes of tobacco is produced in France, Italy, Spain and Greece taken together. Around 80,000 farmers, mostly in poor regions of Greece and Italy, get about €7,000 per hectare from European taxpayers to grow tobacco. That is 20 times the subsidy paid to grain farmers!

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