Swedish Match attacks reported EU plan for key tobacco products

STOCKHOLM Wed Dec 5, 2012 7:21am EST

STOCKHOLM Dec 5 (Reuters) - Swedish Match AB has attacked reported European plans to further legislate on tobacco pouches known as snus as an indirect attempt to ban the products.

Newspaper Dagens Nyheter quoted what it said was a draft of legislation by the Commission which said it wanted to restrict the use of flavourings in snus, a form of chewing tobacco still popular in Sweden.

Swedish Match spokesman Johan Wredberg said he had not seen the new EU Commission proposal, but said that if the report was accurate it showed the EU aimed to ban snus - whose sale is already blocked elsewhere in Europe - by the back door.

"To allow Sweden's exception (from the ban) on paper, but make manufacturing impossible via law, can only be interpreted as a way also to try to ban snus in Sweden," he said.

Wredberg said banning or restricting the use of flavours would mean Swedish Match could not produce snus the way it wanted to and in a way which was best for consumers.

The newspaper said the EU aimed to limit the use of flavourings such as mint, coffee and vanilla in snus to make the product less attractive to young people.

The proposed law would allow national regulators to decide if flavourings were too high, but would allow the Commission to intervene if necessary, the report said.

Swedish Match shares were down 2.7 percent by 1130 GMT, while the benchmark Stockholm index was up 0.4 percent. (Reporting by Veronica Ek; Writing by Patrick Lannin; Editing by David Holmes)