Minister Astrid Thors buys smokeless tobacco on her official EU trip
Finland’s Minister of European and Migration Affairs Astrid Thors (Swedish People's Party), has purchased smokeless tobacco, generally known as snuff or by its Swedish name snus, on an official journey to Brussels as a form of protest against the EU’s snus policy.
According to the Finnish News Agency (STT), Thors bought the snus during a stop-over in Sweden on the way home.
Thors told Helsingin Sanomat that she bought ten boxes of snus for her “friends and acquaintances”. The selling of snus is forbidden within the EU, but Sweden was granted a dispensation upon its joining in the Union.
Finnish law prohibits the importation of snus for the purpose of selling it on. “I did not bring it in for commercial purposes”, Thors points out.
In her view, the ban on snus “violates against the sense of justice of many people”, because snus is less dangerous than cigarettes.
Of late, demonstrations have been organised against the snus ban in the western town of Pietarsaari, a stronghold of the Swedish People’s Party.
Last week, in a case heard at the Mustasaari District Court, where several Pietarsaari individuals were accused of illegal smuggling of snus, the principal offender received a custodial sentence of more than two years, prompting considerable public indignation.
Thors is a Member of Parliament from the Helsinki constituency. She served in the European Parliament as a MEP between 1996 and 2004. She became a member of the Parliament of Finland in 2003 and was re-elected last year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Prison sentence for illegal importation of smokeless tobacco (30.3.2007)
Snus by any other name... (6.5.2008)
Astrid Thors website