Today, the European Commission decided to refer Denmark to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) for failure to amend its national legislation to ban all forms of snus.
Snus is an oral tobacco product sold both loose and in small sachet portions. It is consumed by placing it between the gum and the lip, without being chewed or smoked. All forms of snus are banned from sale in the EU, with the exception of Sweden.
Council Directive 89/622/EEC concerning the labelling of tobacco products and the prohibition of the marketing of certain types of tobacco for oral use introduced a ban on the sale of tobacco products for oral use in 1992 – including snus. This ban does not affect chewing tobacco or tobacco for smoking, which are considered to be traditional products. However the Directive does not include provisions which would allow Member States to introduce exemptions for their territory.
Meanwhile, Council Directive 89/622/EEC has been replaced by Directive 2001/37/EC, which lays down the ban on tobacco products for oral use in its Article 8.
As Denmark has not totally banned the sale of all forms of snus, the European Commission requested Denmark on 25 October 2012 to take all necessary steps to comply with Directive 2001/37/EC and to inform the Commission about the adopted measures of national legislation within two months (see European Commission - MEMO/12/794 - 24/10/2012).
Until now, Denmark has not notified any such measures to the Commission and continues to be in breach of EU law. For this reason, the Commission has decided to refer the case to the CJEU.