EU court stands by ban on Swedish tobacco product 'snus'

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The European Union’s top court on Wednesday stood by an EU ban on the sale of snus, a moist snuff tobacco product made by Swedish Match, in line with advice earlier this year.

Snus is banned in all EU countries except Sweden, which gained an exemption when joining the bloc in 1995.

Swedish Match had challenged the validity of the ban in British courts, arguing that new scientific data had shown it to be less harmful than cigarettes.

The case was referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ’s Advocate General, whose advice is usually followed by judges, said in April the ban was valid.

The ECJ said in Thursday’s judgment that there was “nothing capable of affecting the validity” of the EU directive that banned snus.

Shares in Swedish Match were down 2.3 percent at 1020 GMT, underperforming the wider market in Stockholm.

A Swedish Match spokesman said the ECJ’s ruling was in line with the company’s expectations.

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Additional reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdynia; Editing by Edmund Blair