Postcard from... Brussels


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The Independent Online


When the European Parliament voted on wide-ranging legislation controlling the sale and advertising of tobacco products this week, some people were worried about e-cigarettes becoming harder to buy, or that menthols would be taken off the shelf.

But it was one very unique product that the Swedes were keeping a close watch on, and had been making plenty of noise about in Brussels. That was snus, a chewable tobacco loved by people in Sweden and Norway.

Stuffed under the top lip, snus comes in a huge array of flavours ranging from mint to new artisan creations such as juniper berry, licorice and bergamot.

The European Commission had proposed banning the flavoured tobacco on the grounds that it could appeal to children, sparking a campaign by Swedish politicians to save their snus.

The EC did their best to fight back, suggesting a panel of snus tasters who would decide which ones were too cinnamon-like or minty and should be whipped of the shelves. Only snus in which the tobacco flavour was dominant would survive the panel.

But they failed to convince MEPs, who voted to scrap the snus restrictions on Tuesday, prompting an outpouring of relief. “Hurrah again! Parliament just approved a total exception on additive rules for Swedish snus!” one Swedish MEP, Christofer Fjellner, tweeted.

Swedish Match, a manufacturer of snus welcomed the vote, but warned that the battle was not over yet. “It has become even clearer that the EU’s arbitrary discrimination against snus has solidified,” it said.