The popularity of chew bags among EU-snusers might just have taken a major step in the wrong direction for harm reduced alternatives to smoking. The Bavarian court in Germany recently decided to ban all further distribution of chew bags as they now are classified as snus.
The decision will utmost affect Germany but could potentially affect the rest of Europe if the court order becomes presidential. Chew bags represented approximately 1.5% of Swedish Match total sales where the German market totaled half of those sales.
The labeling on chew bags was expected as European Court of Justice’s ruling last year, classifying any tobacco product that is meant to be placed under the lip or sucked on, should not be classified as chewing tobacco but snus.
This means that chew bags which has similarities to Swedish snus will be classified as the same product even though they’re very different. Chew bags use long-cut tobacco and are meant to be chewed on before it is placed under the lip for the tobacco to release its nicotine content. Snus uses ground cut tobacco which is designed to release the nicotine contents without the need to chew prior to use.
For more knowledge - read our article on Chew bags - deep dive into tobacco pouches
The ban on chew bags increases the potential for nicotine pouches (Zyn, Nordic Spirit etc.) as it a far more relevant product in today’s market. The new product category of All White is free of tobacco and also classified under a different regulation. Nicotine pouches have far more flavors than traditional Swedish snus and appear to attract a far broader target audience because of the harm reduced benefits of it being tobacco-free.
The ban and classification on chew bags will both hinder the consumer who is looking for harm reduced alternatives but also further the discrepancies surrounding Swedish snus. When chew bags and snus are classified as the same product, it means that Swedish snus with 200 years of tradition will be seen as the same as long-cut chewing tobacco pouches with.
Hopefully, the rise of popularity from nicotine pouch brands such as Zyn and Nordic Spirit will convert chew bag consumers to a better harm reduced alternative. Those who still crave the authentic tobacco snus taste can still order online.