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With the onset of COVID-19, governments around the world are frantically trying to put measures in place to deal with the greatest crisis we have faced in a generation. In many countries all but non-essential businesses have been shut, mass gatherings have been banned, countries have closed their borders and strict travel restrictions have been put in place. These measures, together with social distancing, are vital to ensure we ‘flatten the curve’ and slow down the spread of the virus, but they have also presented some challenges and had unintended consequences of their own.

As we have previously reported, restricted access to safer nicotine products is proving to be one of the unintended consequences of the current crisis. This has been highlighted once again since the border between Finland and Sweden closed a number of weeks ago. ETHRA partner, EUforSnus, has reported that there are growing concerns among the 200000 Finnish snus users that they cannot now purchase snus for personal use.  According to Finnish (and EU) law, buying snus for personal use is not prohibited and travellers to Finland are allowed to bring in 1kg of snus. 1 kg of snus corresponds to about 30-40 cans of portion snus.

Now Finnish snus users are demanding that the Finnish government temporarily allows Finns to make online snus purchases. Marko Matilainen, EUforSnus moderator, has made the proposal to the Finnish government to allow the ordering and selling of snus in Finland arguing:  “in the current situation, passenger imports from Sweden for snus are impossible, and there is a high risk that many will resort to cigarettes. It is known that tobacco exacerbates the susceptibility to coronary pneumonia, so the non-smoking option is better, this also significantly supports the Government's "non-smoking Finland" project.”

We would urge all ETHRA partners and supporters of tobacco harm reduction to share this initiative to allow temporary remote ordering of snus in Finland. The petition requires 50000 signatures by Finnish citizens, and can be found here [Link]

Thanks to EUforSnus for bringing this to our attention [Link]

Snus has a proven track record when it comes to harm reduction and Sweden, where snus is widely used as a replacement for combustible tobacco, has the lowest instances of smoking related male cancer and heart disease in the developed world. Snus’ record as a smoking cessation aid is equally impressive, with Sweden having already reached its smoke free target of <5% smoking prevalence. Snus is also the only tobacco product to have been granted a modified risk order by the US FDA.