Finnish Medical Association seeks total ban on snus tobacco

A health ministry working group has proposed that the daily import limit of snus be lowered from one kilo to 100 grams.
The Finnish Medical Association (FMA) says the import of snus, an orally-ingested tobacco product, should be banned altogether.

As part of its agenda to reduce tobacco use in Finland, a working group of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health proposed in May that the daily limit on snus imports should be lowered from 1 kg to 100 grams.

According to the FMA, this does not go far enough.

“Selling snus is illegal in Finland. Therefore it would be more logical to completely prohibit its import, instead of just reducing the allowed amount,” the FMA said in a response to the proposal.

Many respondents to the ministry paper were concerned about the increased use of snus among young athletes. For example, the Ombudsman for Children said young people tend to associate snus with team sports, in particular ice hockey. The ombudsman said the attitudes towards snus by coaches and parents have an effect on how children view these products.

In contrast, the Finnish Shipowners’ Association opposes slashing the limits of snus imports, arguing that the proposed restrictions would decrease the revenues of ferries between Finland and Sweden by 50 million euros annually. What is more, people would travel to northern Sweden to buy snus, if the limits took effect, the association said. Sweden, which has a northern land border with Finland, is the only EU country that allows the sale of snus.

The FMA also said understanding socioeconomic differences is key to reducing smoking and the use of other tobacco products. Above all, anti-tobacco efforts should concentrate on vocational schools.

In a similar vein, the Cancer Society of Finland argued that tobacco use is more common among people with low education and among the disadvantaged. This fact should be taken into account in aims to make Finland smoke-free, the society said.

Meanwhile, the Finnish Tobacco Industries’ Federation said the working group’s report was a sign of an old-fashioned zero tolerance policy based on bans and controls.

Finland has set a target of phasing out all tobacco and nicotine products by 2030. Key proposals for achieving this include increasing tobacco taxes and raising the limit of buying tobacco products from the current 18 to 20 years.