According to a post by MEP Charlie Weimers on X, there is a proposal to extend the ban on snus to nicotine pouches in a leaked version of a document sent out to member states by the European Commission’s consultant on the TPD. This document was circulated to member states in anticipation of a workshop evaluating the effectiveness of EU tobacco legislation, known as the tobacco control acquis.
The paper proposes to extend the existing ban on snus to encompass nicotine pouches, marking a pivotal development in the ongoing discussion around tobacco regulation within the EU and completely preempting the discussion on nicotine pouches that is presently being regulated in a far more balanced way in most member states that have chosen to act in absence of EU rules.
The Commission has organized different workshops on this topic during the current week. One workshop is directed at member state representatives, while another one invites participation from economic stakeholders. According to print screens presented by MEP Weimers, it is two nearly identical sets of documents were distributed to the participants to either workshop, with only minor variations in the text, conveying distinctly different messages. When comparing to the document sent to the NNPA and Pouchforum it is clear that the questionable statements in themselves are not the main issue. The text sent out to economic operators states that “economic operators believe that extending the ban also to nicotine pouches will be detrimental for users intending to switching ‘to safer alternatives’” while the text sent to member states and quoted in the tweet says “…some challenges are posed by new products as covered under the relevance criterion that require the ban to be extended to nicotine containing oral products”
It seems evident that the consultant to the European commission is trying to keep economic operators in the dark while encouraging Member States to take specific actions by presenting them with preliminary findings while ignoring that the only member state where smokers are presented with the full range of alternative nicotine products has the better results regardless of how it is measured.
This isn’t the first instance of the Commission or its consultants going beyond the remit of the evaluation exercise and adopting a strongly activist stance. The public consultation on the evaluation of the legislative framework for tobacco control faced criticism from multiple quarters, including Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who argued that it was structured in a way that prevented responses differing from a predetermined narrative.
A screenshot of the second version was posted on X by MEP Charlie Weimers which can be found here
The European Commission consistently emphasizes the importance of transparency and comprehensive contributions during workshops and consultations. Pouchforum believes that expecting a similar degree of transparency and honesty from the Commission and its consultants is entirely warranted unless such interactions with external stakeholders are not genuinely intended to achieve a more complete input to the review and to improve the basis for upcoming considerations by European Parliament and Council on the current legislative framework.