(Adds trade minister comments)
By Veronica Ek
STOCKHOLM, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The European Commission has promised Sweden it will take another look at its ban of the tobacco product snus, which is allowed in Sweden but banned elsewhere in the European Union, the Swedish trade minister said on Wednesday.
Swedish Match is Europe’s biggest producer of snus, or wet snuff, which is put under the upper lip and is mostly sold as small pouches of tobacco.
Trade minister Ewa Bjorling said she had met EU Health Commissioner John Dalli and discussed the results of a survey of EU states about current tobacco laws.
“What I believe is most important is that you base your reasoning on scientific facts. That is what I try to tell Dalli, and I ask the question: Why do you still want to have a ban on Swedish wet snuff when there are other snuff products on the market in the EU, for example Pakistani snuff?,” Bjorling told Reuters.
This was the second time she raised the snus issue with Dalli.
“I think he was listening in a different way this time. The first time he dismissed it simply saying their goal is to get everything away for health reasons,” Bjorling said.
Sweden says it has a lower proportion of deaths from lung cancer than in other EU states and a lower level of smokers.
Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter has reported that its own examination of the answers to the Commission’s survey showed that a majority of people in member states wanted to end the snus ban, even if most members states supported keeping it.
The Commission is expected to propose a new tobacco products law during the spring next year and released the results of a survey in July of attitudes to the current law, including the ban on snus.
The survey, which is on the Commission’s website, was carried out by asking questions to EU citizens, industry representatives, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government representatives.
Most answers came from Italy and Poland, and the Commission noted that Italian tobacconists had organised a campaign to encourage submissions to the survey.
The survey showed that EU citizens and industry representatives were in favour of lifting the snus ban, while most EU states and NGOs wanted it maintained.
The main markets for Swedish Match’s snus products are Sweden, Norway and the United States.
Swedish Match shares rose 1.6 percent to 224 Swedish crowns on Wednesday. (Editing by Mark Potter)