(CN) – Backing the EU-wide ban on the oral tobacco product snus, a magistrate with the European Court of Justice found Thursday scientific advancements over the years do not require any change.
With the exception of Sweden, where snus originated, oral tobacco has been banned in Europe since 1992.
Alleging discrimination, a snus maker called Swedish Match filed suit to begin selling its smokeless tobacco products in the United Kingdom.
Swedish Match actually brought a similar, and ultimately unsuccessful, challenge in 2004, but it claimed in the new case that the judgment should be reviewed in light of developments in the applicable legislation, the scientific data available and the characteristics of the market in tobacco products.
The case was filed in the United Kingdom, but the High Court of Justice for England & Wales invited the European Court of Justice to give a preliminary ruling.
On Thursday Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe recommended to the Luxembourg-based court that it rule against Swedish Match.
“In my view, neither the developments in scientific knowledge nor the changes in the legal framework applicable to tobacco and related products since those judgments were delivered call for a different conclusion with regard to the suitability of Article 1(c) and Article 17 of Directive 2014/40 to achieve their twofold objective,” says the opinion, which is not binding on the court.
The ruling quotes findings from the European Commission that “the addictiveness of tobacco for oral use justifies the adoption of preventive measures in a timely fashion on account of the effects on public health, which are difficult to reverse, and which may arise if that product were to penetrate the market throughout the European Union.”
“That conclusion is all the more compelling since, as is clear from the impact assessment, the other possible measures would not prevent the significant commercial potential of tobacco for oral use, in particular given the introduction of smoke-free environments,” the opinion states. “Moreover, reversing that prohibition would give an ambiguous message as to the harmful effects of tobacco for oral use. As the Finnish Government observed, since the same prohibition has already been in place since 1992, lifting that prohibition would suggest that those products are harmless, which might increase their attractiveness to young people.”