Global Status of Snus

Knowledge•Action•Change (2018)

- No Fire, No Smoke: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction

The EU stands out prominently as the only region to have a comprehensive ban on the sale of snus, which was implemented in 1992 and then incorporated into subsequent Tobacco Products Directives (TPD).

The UK started the ban when, in 1989, it outlawed oral snuff in response to the introduction of ‘Skoal Bandits’. When the first TPD was drafted, the EU legislators included a ban on snus as part of market harmonisation, in that three EU countries had implemented a ban, and the ‘market harmonisation’ reasons were used to enforce this across all EU countries:

» 1992, EU Directive 92/41 banned sales of snus;

» 1995, on accession to the EU, Sweden obtained an exemption;

» 2001, EU Tobacco Products Directive continued the ban;

» 2014, EU Tobacco Products Directive continued the ban.

The wording in the TPD is carefully constructed so that it does not apply to snuff, or to chewing tobaccos such as South Asian tobaccos:

“No person may produce or supply tobacco for oral use. Tobacco for oral use is:

A tobacco product which is –

(a) intended for oral use, unless it is intended to be inhaled or chewed; and

(b) in powder or particulate form or any combination of these forms, whether

presented in a sachet portion or a porous sachet, or in any other way”.

The sale of snus is allowed in 79 countries in total and banned in 39 countries including the EU 28. The sale of snus is allowed in the non-EU Norway and although officially banned in Iceland, Icelanders import a slightly different ’cut’ of what is officially known as ’nasal tobacco’. This is used either in a small lump under the lip or made into a snus-like parcel using separate paper like the Swedish snus packaging. Despite being much less harmful than cigarettes this Icelandic ’snus’ is taxed at the same level and the tax level has increased over the last eight years (over 140%). The same rules apply as for cigarettes – age restricted sales (18+), no advertising, health warnings on packets, and no claims of health benefits such as help quitting cigarettes. Notwithstanding the restrictions, snus sales have increased by 330% since 2001.

See also p. 89 of the report: No Fire, No Smoke: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2018 — Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (

Global Status of Snus

Global Status of Snus

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