The proposed revision of the European directive on tobacco, presented on December 19 in Brussels, has provoked strong reactions in Sweden. In effect, the text upholds the prohibition on tobacco for oral use, or snus, which is highly popular with Swedes, declaring that “health warnings” similar to those imposed on cigarette packets must be visible on the boxes, and also keeps in place the prohibition against adding flavours. Although Sweden benefits from a exemption from the ban on producing and selling snus, it still cannot export the product – the flagship of its tobacco industry.

Aftonbladet accuses the Swedish government of failing to protect the exemption on snus, “occupied as it has been in trying to get permission to export,” under pressure from the tobacco lobby.

Fredrik Reinfeldt will now go down in history as the prime minister who has taken their snus away from the Swedes. If Swedish politicians want more success in the future, they must change their strategy. The priority must be the protection of the Swedish exemption. The desire of the tobacco industry to open up new markets must drop into second place.

In Expressen the philosopher Lars Gustafsson attacks the “authoritarian language of the European Commission”, which wants to dictate “what flavour snus will have and to where it will be exported.” It is even, he says, "a crucial issue for democracy…. But that is not the issue." He writes –

It is no longer a philosophical question about whether an organisation incapable of coming up with a coherent policy to stop global warming should intervene in how consumers in member states should take their snus. No. What matters is to tell Barroso [President of the European Commission] that he is nothing more than a lackey. And that he cannot ignore our trade minister, who, unlike him, does have democratic legitimacy. Where does Barroso draw his legitimacy from?

“Pierre Schellekens is the head of the European Commission office in Stockholm. And he takes snus”, the daily writes in its editorial

M. Schellekens will soon be sending a report to Brussels on the growing scepticism in Sweden towards the EU and the negative image of the EU bureaucrats who want to regulate our snus in detail and prohibit its flavouring.

In many ways, European cooperation is a fantastic invention. But it is precisely this type of stupid proposal that erodes popular commitment to the Union – this outstanding incapacity to distinguish between big and small matters.