BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An EU ban on the sale of snus, a wet snuff tobacco product made by Swedish Match, is valid, an adviser to the European Union’s top court said on Thursday.
Snus, a moist, smokeless tobacco product, which is consumed by tucking a pinch of it between the gums and upper lip, is banned in all EU countries except for Sweden, which gained an exemption when joining the bloc in 1995.
Swedish Match had challenged a ban on the product in British courts, arguing that new scientific data had shown it to be less harmful than cigarettes.
The case was referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and the ECJ’s Advocate General, whose advice is usually followed by judges, said on Thursday that the ban was valid.
The ECJ will make a final decision in two to four months’ time.
“The EU legislature did not exceed the limits of its discretion in concluding that lifting the prohibition on the placing on the market of tobacco for oral use could result in an overall increase in the harmful effects of tobacco within the EU,” Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe said.
The Advocate General added that he did not believe snus was being discriminated against, as there was a genuine concern by the legislator that the novelty factor of oral tobacco could entice young people to try it.
“We are disappointed with the opinion and hope that the court will come to a different conclusion in its final ruling,” Swedish Match General Counsel Marie-Louise Heiman said in a statement.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Susan Fenton