Resolution Urging the European Union to Remove its Ban on the Sale of Smokeless Tobacco Exposed

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The Resolution Urging the European Union to Remove its Ban on the Sale of Smokeless Tobacco was approved by the ALEC Board of Directors January 8, 2010. The resolution was approved again with minor amendments by the ALEC Board of Directors January 9, 2015.[1] Where the original language of the resolution has changed, the old language appears strikethrough and the new text appears in bold.

CMD's Bill Summary

From its 1998 resolution in support of Fast Track Trade Negotiating Authority— which was used to push a permanent normal trading relationship with China through Congress in 2000 with little discussion or debate-- to more recent resolutions in support of the proposed Colombia, Panama and Korea Free Trade Agreements, ALEC has consistently urged its members to support a radical "free trade" agenda. This free trade agenda has cost America millions of jobs as factories closed and moved overseas in search of cheaper labor. Since 2001, an estimated 2.4 million American jobs have been lost to China alone. Now a diverse array of service sector jobs, from accounting and tax preparation to health care and credit card servicing, are being off-shored under these agreements. Such free trade agreements also allow public health, consumer, environmental and worker safety rules to be challenged as "barriers to trade" in trade tribunals that operate outside the constraints of U.S. law. ALEC has also been a major promoter of the U.S. tobacco industry, which seeks to hook new generations of smokers on their products around the world. Reynolds Tobacco is the corporate co-chair of ALEC’s International Relations Task Force. This trade resolution specifically targets the European Union ban on Snus, a moist tobacco product often marketed to the young with fruit flavors. Reynolds produces Camel Snus in four flavors and is not happy that this dangerous product is banned in most of Europe. Note that ALEC maintains a list of "International Delegates," which are elected government officials around the world.

ALEC Bill Text


The European Union’s (EU’s) current ban on the sale of snus is in direct violation of one of its own governing principles – that of promoting the free movement of goods within the EU. Further, the European Commission concedes that cigarettes, whose sale is not banned, have far greater health consequences than snus. Therefore ALEC urges the European Commission to conduct the agreed-upon review of the issue and to lift the ban on the sale of snus in the EU.

Model Policy

WHEREAS, the Four Freedoms: free movement of goods; capital; services and persons within the European Union (EU) form the fundamental principles on which the Union was established; and

WHEREAS, Sweden is a member of the EU; and

WHEREAS, the sale of smokeless tobacco (snus) is prohibited everywhere in the EU except for Sweden while many other tobacco products including cigarettes can be sold anywhere in the EU; and

WHEREAS, Swedish and Swedish-style snus is the only commodity that is lawfully-produced, sold and consumed in an EU member state and exported worldwide but cannot legally be sold anywhere in the EU except for Sweden; and

WHEREAS, an EU ban of a product largely produced in one EU member state is discriminatory and in direct violation of competitive market laws; and

WHEREAS, the European Commission has failed to demonstrate why the ban on snus sales is reasonable in light of its role as the EU guardian of free trade and member state equal right of access; and

WHEREAS, several studies, including one published in The Lancet in 2007 found that snus use caused no increase in cancers of the lung or mouth and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer that was significantly lower than that of cigarette use; and

WHEREAS, Sweden has the lowest number of daily smokers in the EU (18% of the population) and the highest level of EU snus consumption; and

WHEREAS, tobacco-related cases of lung cancer and heart disease are lower in Sweden than in any other EU member state; and

WHEREAS, snus has been shown to help people discontinue cigarette smoking, a more risky way to consume tobacco; and

WHEREAS, a study conducted by the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, Australia found little difference in health adjusted life expectancy between smokers who ceased using all tobacco products and smokers who switched from another tobacco product to snus; and

WHEREAS, the EU wants to reduce cigarette smoking among its population; and

WHEREAS, studies demonstrate that Swedes find it easier to quit smoking than citizens of any other EU member state; and

WHEREAS, both the European Commission and the European Parliament have recognized that snus is a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking; and

WHEREAS, other forms of “oral” tobacco that arguably pose greater health risks are permitted to be sold in the EU;

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the European Commission, per its own directive, conduct a review on snus, as it is less harmful than EU-sanctioned tobacco products;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the European Commission lift its 1992 ban on snus sales in the European Union.