Should the European Union lift the ban on snus? Evidence from the Swedish experience

Addiction. 2003 Sep;98(9):1191-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2003.00442.x.


The very low smoking prevalence in Sweden has received considerable attention. Sweden was the only country in Europe to reach the World Health Organizations' goal of less than 20% daily smoking prevalence among adults by year 2000. Only 17% of Swedish men smoke. Some have argued that this has been achieved because Swedes use another form of tobacco instead. Sweden has a high level of use of a moist snuff product called 'snus'. Nineteen per cent of adult men and 1% of women are daily users and the trend is increasing. Epidemiological studies have failed to find evidence that snus causes cancers, including oral cancer. Its adverse effects on the cardiovascular system are debated, but are certainly less than those of smoking. Recent studies among former smokers indicate that many men have quit smoking using snus. Forty-seven per cent of current snus users are former smokers and 28% of ex-smoking used snus at their last attempt to stop smoking. The association between high snus consumption and low smoking prevalence has been debated and challenged. It has been argued that snus may be a gateway to cigarette smoking. Recent data has found that among those starting tobacco use in the form of snus, 20% later go on to smoking while the same risk for those not starting with snus is 43%. On balance, there is reason to believe that having snus available to the Swedish population has been of benefit to public health. Repealing the ban on snus in the rest of the European Union might also have some positive effect, depending on the marketing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • European Union
  • Humans
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Social Control, Formal
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Tobacco, Smokeless*