Our Kids are still our number one priority..

January 14, 2008 - The Standing Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), received the assignment from the European Union (EU) Commission to investigate the health risks of smokeless tobacco products, including Swedish snus. The committee presented a preliminary report at the beginning of July, 2007 which was based on a review of a large number of scientific studies and reports, and particular attention was paid to Swedish experience of snus. Traditional cigarette companies such as British American Tobacco (BAT), Reynolds American, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris that have started to diversify into smokeless products anxiously wait for the final decision. But why should the ban be lifted - the major problem that existed in 1990 still exists today. Small bags of tobacco were banned in Britain in 1990 after the US Smokeless Tobacco company tried to introduce sweet-flavored tobacco capsules called Skoal Bandits . It was feared that they would appeal to children. The ban was supplanted by EU-wide legislation in May, 1992. The legislation prohibited the placing on the market of tobacco for oral use; the primary reason "...products for oral use will be used above all by young people, thus leading to nicotine addiction..." . (The prohibition was introduced by Directive 92/41/EEC amending Directive 89/622/EEC.) However, as we all know Sweden negotiated an exception - these people have been using Snus for over 200 years; it's a tradition--it's part of their culture. The legal age to purchase tobacco products in Britain was just raised from 16 to 18 - why wasn't the age raise to 21 - we all know the majority of smokers start smoking before the age of 21. The art of snusing - the placement of the portioned bag between the upper lip and gum and then sucking while the bag is totally stationary - is not an easy task to master. Public health proponents of smokeless tobacco tell us they are targeting inveterate (hard-nosed, long established, deep-rooted) smokers but as tobacco companies are finding at test sites in the U.S. it's not an easy sell. The Chief Operating Officer of this company, Murray Kessler has stated that "Nine out of 10 smokers that try smokeless still reject the product." Professor John Britton, chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, a proponent of SNUS as a harm reduction solution has concluded "It's their (tobacco companies) job to sell as much tobacco as possible, so they will be targeting non-smokers rather than current ones, that's the worry." Those that will give Snus a chance are young adults and kids that want to be young adults; as a result we'll end up with another generation of nicotine addicts never able to achieve their full potential. In Norway (not an EU member) to hook kids on Snus you find starter kits with various Snus packets flavored with various fruit flavors. As Swedish Match learned in Russia (Snus product called Click) with no prior Snus tradition - it is a matter of marketing an entire new behavior pattern and teaching consumers. You would think, that if a tobacco users have to change their behavior, they might as well give up tobacco products and live longer. The EU ban against the use of Snus must be upheld. (TobaccoWatch.org)