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EU in dispute with Finland over liberalization campaign

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Commissioner Androulla Vassilou from Cyprus has given a very strict reply to Finland's Minister of European and Migration Affairs Astrid Thors (read more in Helsingin Sanomat's English edition).

The discussion regarding the controversy between the European Commission and Finland was deepened when Helsingin Sanomat reported that Astrid Thors had also bought ten boxes of snus for friends and acquaintances when stopping in Sweden on her way back to Finland from Brussels, where she had been in an official capacity. Importation for personal use of snus is not forbidden, but it was seen as a provocation in order to re-introduce snus to Finland.

Thors pointed out in the Helsingin Sanomat interview that the ban on snus “violates against the sense of justice of many people”. Matti Rautalahti, the chief medical officer of the Cancer Society of Finland, states in the Helsingin Sanomat that smokeless tobacco is not a safer substitute for cigarettes rather it can result in an addiction to nicotine even worse than that caused by cigarettes.

The trip to Sweden to buy smokeless tobacco is one made by thousands of Finnish people, and thus it is hard to see minister Thors' acquisitions as a particular provocation to the ban, neither can the action be seen as part of an official Swedish policy. My opinions on snus? Dangerous and addictive but it could certainly work in a harm reduction strategy.