I know. It’s been an age. So by way of an apology for the lack of blogposts, here’s a quick update on the state of play for tobacco and harm reduction in Sweden.
The “government” have recently published a Big Document about the fresh hell they plan to impose on those long-suffering folk who just want to get on with their lives in peace, namely smokers, snusers and vapers.
(I put the word government in inverted commas because the country is currently being ruled by a gang of chancers who make the Keystone Cops look competent. For example, after inviting half the world to make their way to Sweden in search of a better life, the warm, fuzzy hug of gesture politicking is unravelling fast. Not only are they now discussing whether or not to close the Öresund bridge that links Sweden to Denmark, but in the absence of actual, proper buildings in which to house new arrivals, migrants are being asked to reside in makeshift tents. In a Swedish Winter.)
Anyway, I digress. The Big Document.
It’s a sort of pre-TPD statement, with a fairy dust sprinkling of prohibitionist policies and proposals that would make all but the most hardcore puritan statists cringe.
It’s been put forward by Public Health Minister Gabriel Wikström, the 28 year-old former president of the Socialist party’s youth wing. Even in his sharp ministerial suit, he still looks and sounds like a teenager who won a competition to be Minister For The Day on the back of a cereal packet.
The Big Document appears to be his brainchild, although a large chunk of it is simply him trying to take credit for policies dictated by the EU TPD. The word brainchild also implies that he has a functioning brain. Since every sentence he utters either parrots the wet dreams of Tobaksfakta and other state-sponsored fanatics, or includes the words “Health Inequalities”, the jury is still out on whether he’s just another mindless prohibitionist puppet of the lobby groups.
The Big Document is full of those smart ideas like bans, warnings and restrictions so beloved by politicians and joyless pressure groups the world over. Menthol ban? Check. Plans to trample all over Sweden’s press/print freedoms – a core pillar of its constitution – by jumping on the widely ridiculed plain packaging bandwagon? Check. A vast array of proposed outdoor smoking bans? Check (and being Sweden, these will presumably include vaping, because the poor poppets in tobacco control and government get “confused” easily). Telling consumers that snus causes harm? Check.
Sad but true. As Atakan Befrits reported here, something is indeed rotten in the state of Sweden. It really is frightening to think that as the rest of the world wakes up to the potential of reduced risk consumer products, Sweden is trying to pretend that it hasn’t got a perfectly good one already. Maybe they think that if they promote risks that aren’t there, then it will make all those calls to lift the EU snus ban disappear quietly into the night.
Since many of those who read this blog are vapers, you might be wondering what plans they have for ecigs and vapour products. The answer is, they don’t have any.
That’s not quite true, but almost. You see, the government are sitting pretty right now. The court case brought by the Medicines Licensing Regulator to ban everything under…err…medicinal licensing regulations is still in limbo. So until it’s resolved then ecigs are in limbo too. I expect a decision will be reached soon. In fact I’ll put money on it being just before May 2016. Because as the only reference to ecigs in the entire Big Document states, the government have the TPD ace up their sleeve. Which allows them to ban ecigs and vapour products under medicinal licensing regulations should they wish to ignore the consumer regs aspect of directive. How handy.
So for everyone fighting the TPD, keep on fighting, and please spare a thought for Swedish vapers. Short of a miracle win for Totally Wicked in the ECJ, I’m sorry to say that the vile consumer reg elements of the TPD is currently our best-case scenario.
Confirmation that the government, along with the Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) are planning to ban vaping in outdoor public places: