18 October, 2012

Saviour of our lungs

Mr. Dalli, the Maltese European Commissioner who has resigned, seems to have lost his job due to snus (I think I've spelt that right).

Snus is a tobacco product very popular in Scandinavia. It is sometimes referred to as wet snuff, and the idea is that you put a wodge of it under your upper lip and leave it there for a long time (I don't suppose there's much else to do in the Scndinavian winter). It is the reason so few people smoke cigarettes in these northern regions, although I must say I can't see much benefit in giving up one tobacco product to get hooked on another. An increasing number of people in America are buying snus, because it doesn't require a lot of spitting in the way chewing tobacco does, which is inconvenient if you have a public role like, say, Mitt Romney.

Anyhow, snus is banned in the European Union, because they know what's best for you, even though cigarettes aren't, and Sweden made it a condition of its entry into the EU that snus would remain legal there. In fact snus doesn't give you lung cancer because none of it goes into your lungs. Sweden has one of the lowest incidences of lung cancer in the world.

Naturally snus manufacturers want to expand their market and there is some suggestion that Mr Dalli might have encouraged a businessman to approach manufacturers with the offer of supporting a liberalisation.

Given the fact that such a move might lower lung cancer rates one wonders what is wrong, but unfortunately it looks as if Dalli, who might otherwise have been the saviour of Europe's lungs, may have had other motives.

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