Full victory to Norway over snus producer Swedish Match

Oslo County Court today delivered a verdict stating that the requirement for standardised packaging of snus is a legitimate measure in line with the EEA Agreement.

Swedish Match went to court last summer to avoid having to introduce standardised packaging on snus. They claimed that the measure was a breach of the EEA Agreement, a trade agreement with the EU that is incorporated into Norwegian law. Today, the Oslo County Court delivered its verdict. The Norwegian State won on all accounts and was awarded all court costs.

– This is a true victory for everyone working to ensure that children and young people do not become addicted to tobacco products. I am happy, but not surprised, that we won this case. We know that standardised tobacco packaging is an important measure to prevent initiation, says Norwegian Minister of Health Bent Høie.  

– This is a victory for public health and an important step towards making new generations tobacco free, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society Anne Lise Ryel. 

The Court found, among other things, that snus is harmful to health and that standardised packaging will contribute to the protection of public health, especially among children and young people. The Court also concluded that standardised tobacco packaging is an evidence-based and internationally recommended measure.  

 In Norway, we are approaching a smokefree youth generation, but a large share of young people use snus.

– The significant increase in snus use among young people started after the tobacco industry launched snus packaging with new design and colours. Therefore, it is especially important that the standardised packaging regulation in Norway includes snus. Standardised packaging will reduce the advertising effect of packaging design towards young people, says Høie.   

– The tobacco industry has invested billions in the development of packaging design, and they have tried to use the court system to stop the introduction of standardised packaging. The fact that the industry is fighting back this hard is the greatest proof that the measure will have effect, says Ryel.

The new regulations on standardised packaging entered into force on 1 July 2017. All cigarette and snus packages must have the same colour and design. There is a one year transition period for the industry to change their production and sell out stock. From 1 July 2018, all packages must be standardized.