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La UE hauria de mirar com Suècia va aconseguir la taxa de tabaquisme més baixa d'Europa 




At the end of November, there has been some commotion around leaked documents related to the EU’s Tobacco Tax Directive (TED), in which the European Commission not only sets out its preliminary plans for a tax increase on tobacco but also wants to introduce a common European tax on alternative, less risky products, such as vaping devices and heated tobacco products. Rumours of such a proposal have been circulating for some time.

El Financial Times, que havia aconseguit posar-se a les mans d'un esborrany de proposta de la CE, va anunciar la notícia a finals de novembre. Després d'aquesta notícia, també van sorgir ràpidament els rumors que tant els productes orals de nicotina, les bosses de nicotina que no contenen tabac, com el snus, que estan prohibits a la UE, però molt populars a Suècia, també es veurien afectats pel nou impost, gairebé duplicant-se. el seu preu.

A Suècia, aquest darrer punt és molt sensible per diversos motius. Al cap i a la fi, el país ha estat gràcies al snus que va lluitar amb èxit contra els cigarrets durant anys. Com a resultat, l'autoritat sueca de salut pública va anunciar que el 2022 el nombre de fumadors es va reduir en un punt addicional fins al 5.6 per cent de la població. Com a tal, la prevalença del tabaquisme sueca del 5,6% és una quarta part de la mitjana de la UE del 23% i és la més baixa de la UE i una de les més baixes del món.

This puts Stockholm on the podium of the countries with greater smoking declines, ahead of the EU and the world. As a result, the country is well ahead of the European Cancer Plan’s goal of a “smoke-free generation” by 2040, which aims to reduce the number of smokers in Europe to 5 per cent of the population.

Suècia és l'únic país europeu que compleix aquest objectiu molt abans del 2040. Mentrestant, el tabaquisme continua sent el principal factor de risc de mort prematura al continent. Una de cada cinc morts es deu al tabaquisme.

While Brussels continues to pursue a rigid policy that not only tackles traditional tobacco products but – driven by a solid anti-tobacco lobby –seeks to place under the same provisions applied to cigarettes the novel products, such as e-cigarettes,  heated tobacco, pouches and snus. These products, according to industry and some public health authorities in the US, Germany, Belgium, France, or The Netherlands because they lack combustion and smoke, are considered to be less harmful for smokers.

El model suec contrasta fortament amb les polítiques i l'enfocament conservador de la Comissió Europea, i amb la subagència per al control del tabac de l'Organització Mundial de la Salut (OMS) que després de més d'una dècada d'haver arribat als mercats de productes no combustibles, encara es nega a acceptar la reducció de danys. mesures, a part del cessament, que indiquen que els nous productes estan pendents d'una rigorosa avaluació científica independent que l'OMS afirma que no està disponible i que l'OMS no durà a terme. Aquesta actitud es reflecteix a nivell europeu, malgrat els importants esforços del Parlament Europeu per incloure l'avaluació de l'evidència científica darrere de la reducció del risc dels nous productes en el pla europeu de control del càncer.


The leaked EU tax proposal puts pressure on the Swedish model to curb smoking, as Sweden prepares to take over the Presidency in January 2023. The Commission’s blindness to the success of the Swedish Snusin bringing down the country’s smoking rates to record low levels, together with the ban of snus in the rest of the EU, restricting access of a product that Swedes are proud of, helps  explaining the fierce Swedish politicians’ reactions to the Commission’s alleged plans to introduce a European tax on snus that could almost double the price and the fear that Sweden could be the next target of the highly profitable trade that organized crime has in Europe of nicotine products.

Debate in Brussels on this topic will be according to our sources, on if the TED proposal will allow the Commission to quietly revamp their hardly efficient tobacco control measures in comparison to the harm reduction inclusive tobacco control ones of Sweden. Talk is that the Commission would not recognise that the EU ban on snus was a public health mistake, placing the over 90 million European smokers that despite all the taxes and restrictions continue to smoke at greater risk than they need to be. However, this will not be a foregone conclusion, as the country pursues a lonely anti-smoking policy, which, despite its spectacular results, deviates sharply from the EU’s orthodox policy. As a result, further diversion through taxes and excise duties are expected mainly – and mostly in vain – not only on cigarettes but also on novel reduced-risk smokeless products. 

In the end, the European Union is mainly looking at the revenue it plans to generate – more than €9 billion extra revenue from a European tax increase on tobacco – rather than public health gains for smokers. This is unfortunate for European citizens and the predetermined policy goals within the European Union. Swedish EU commissioner Ylva Johansson revealed last week in Swedish media that the new proposals to tax snus more heavily would harm Sweden and provide further incentives for the illegal tobacco trade, thus as we have witnessed in countries like France, where according to the latest  KPMG report on the growing size and cost of illicit tobacco consumption in Europe, the loss to the French state alone averages around €6 billion a year, and the illicit cigarettes share of the tobacco market went up 3 times to nearly 40%. France, due to the high excise rates, remains the biggest market for illicit cigarettes in the EU with a total of more than 15 billion illicit cigarettes consumed in 2021, leading to close to 30% of the total cigarettes consumption in the EU, growing drastically from 13% in 2017.

Will the European Commission’s pride stand in the way of protecting smokers who have failed to quit, and will it harm states’ revenues in a time of looming recession?

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