This week COP10, a forum where global tobacco policies are discussed and negotiated, takes place in Panama.

On this topic, Johan Nissinen, a Member of the European Parliament from the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna), has published an article in Europaportalen, that emphasizes the need for Sweden to take a strong stance in preventing the European Union (EU) from advocating a ban on nicotine pouches. The backdrop is that the Member States will speak under one single position coordinated by EU and there are indications that the European Commission is considering a ban, which goes against the current trend in Europe where member states are regulating the product for sales.

Nissinen expresses concern over the response he received from Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides during a recent hearing in the Parliament’s Committee on Public Health. When he asked about a potential ban on nicotine pouches, he perceived ambiguity in the Commissioner’s response, interpreting it as a signal that a ban is being considered but not openly communicated.

The author underscores the significance of COP10 and notes that, while the EU coordinates the positions of its member states, Sweden has its own delegation too. Criticizing the EU’s approach to tobacco policy, Nissinen describes it as a “total disaster,” citing unrealistic goals and a lack of tangible outcomes.

He points out that Sweden is closest to the EU’s target of reducing smoking to 5%, largely due to the prevalence of snus and nicotine pouches as an alternative to cigarettes. However, he contends that this success is viewed as a threat by EU bureaucrats who, he argues, prefer prohibitions and bans over alternative harm reduction methods.

Nissinen expresses concern about a potential global push to ban nicotine pouches, which could bypass the democratic process and impact Swedish export jobs tied to nicotine pouch production. He calls for decisive action from the Swedish delegation at COP10 to ensure that the EU does not advocate for such a ban, emphasizing the importance for the Swedish government to be vocal on its expectations in this regard.

Nissinen asserts that the future of nicotine pouches is a matter for the Swedish people, and their elected representatives should be actively involved in decisions to be agreed at the EU level, particularly during crucial negotiations like COP10.

Pouchforum has previously written articles about how the COP10 outcome can end up having direct legal effect on matters that are under EP mandate. We agree with the call from the MEP and would like to encourage all delegations from EU Member States at the COP10 to stay vigilant to avoid being put in front of a “Fait accompli” when Europe is to decide whether we are to tackle cancer or ban less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.

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