Snus Ban: Let's Leave The EU, Sort It Out Later

Discussion in 'Politics, News, Media, Campaigns' started by Blog - Dick Puddlecote, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. Blog - Dick Puddlecote

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    As I reported in January, the UK government went in to bat for the EU in favour of upholding the ban on snus everywhere but Sweden when it was challenged in the ECJ.
    Reports from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) where the EU's ban on snus was being challenged were not just disappointing, but also quite astonishing! A number of tweets from Gerry Stimson, who was attending on behalf of the NNA, described how a succession of of bureaucrats outed themselves as being in denial about the evidence base behind snus and willing to blatantly lie to the court about it. Most surprising was that the UK government took it upon itself to actively oppose lifting the ban despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits snus could provide.​
    Overwhelming isn't the word, snus has just about been given a clean bill of health in every aspect. A Lancet review spoke of no evidence of harm from long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” (p 1364).

    This doesn't matter to the ECJ though. They delivered their opinion on the court challenge today and they couldn't care less.
    The European Union’s ban on the smoking substitute snus can be upheld according to the European Court of Justice's advocate general. In his preliminary opinion, ahead of the court's decision this summer, Henrik Saugmandsgaard said that while the evidence for the ban was not clear cut, the European Parliament had the right to impose the ban in 1992.​
    Yep, the EU don't need any compelling evidence to ban anything, just a hunch will do.

    Now, although this is only an opinion and the judgement is to be decided at a later date, it effectively kills the thing stone dead and probably the safest form of tobacco use - which has led to dramatic declines in smoking in Sweden and Norway in a short space of time - will continue to be banned for the foreseeable future. All over a moral panic led by Edwina Currie in 1984.

    This speaks volumes about how much of a regulatory Leviathan the EU is. It simply cannot be countered. The ECJ is one of the pillars of an organisation that piles bureaucracy upon bureaucracy upon bureaucracy and excludes the public entirely. Its role, as this opinion proves, is not to hold the legislature to account for bad behaviour, but merely to rubber-stamp its right to make bad decisions.

    Now, the timing of this wasn't great considering Brexit negotiations are ongoing and the UK may have felt that this wasn't the hill to die on right now, but the fact that they argued so strongly against binning this astonishingly unnecessary ban as a result of the treacle of red tape we are tied into just illustrates what a shit-show the EU is and why it's good that we are leaving. If the UK - which, may I remind you unveiled a Tobacco Control Plan in July saying it wants to "maximise" use of alternative nicotine products - feels it necessary to fight for an unjust law which protects the smoking they also claim to want to eradicate, it's well past time that we maximised an alternative to rule from Brussels.

    I know many will say that this proves that leaving the EU will make no difference. Except that UK courts have always been far more predisposed to embarrassing the government, most administrations have been taken to the cleaners by courts in the UK. The ECJ, however, is just another regulatory talking shop, as perfectly highlighted by the court admitting there is no evidence to prove snus is dangerous enough to ban but agreeing that the EU can do it anyway.

    Who cares about the public and health, eh? The EU's embarrassment must be avoided at all costs.

    Besides, let's get out of the EU and then see what happens with this ban once we're out. The system of electing MEPs is proportional representation which basically means they're in for life and have no power to reject any law whatsoever. British MPs can though, and are directly accountable to their electorate, we can kick many of them out very easily.

    The hypocrisy on display by civil servants at the ECJ will be more difficult to justify if they are challenged by angry MPs scrambling for every vote to stay in their office at Westminster. And talking of hills to die on, how many British MPs want to be seen to be pinning their majorities to a policy of backing incumbent cigarette manufacturers against a product deemed 100 times safer and which has led to a smoking rate amongst women in Norway of 1%?

    Today - and the incredibly long fight against the EU's ridiculous TPD - proves that the people have no say in Brussels, only corporate lobbyists do. Let's get on with getting out of the absurdly impenetrable, bureaucratic, and anti-democratic EU and sort the crap laws out later. ​
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