Case Study

Snus: No smoke without fire

21 pages
November 2006
Reference: IMD-5-0707

In almost every county in the world, more than 20% of the population smoke. The health hazards of cigarettes are many and severe. Recently, most developed countries have introduced laws to restrict where smokers can light up. These laws might encourage smokers to consume less or to quit entirely. Sweden stands out among peer countries as its smoking population is only 18% of all adults. Consequently, it has low rates of smoking-related illness and death. The Swedes consume as much nicotine as elsewhere, however, because many of them use a traditional smokeless tobacco product called snus. Since the tobacco in snus is pasteurized, not fermented as in cigarettes and other smokeless tobaccos, it contains far fewer cancer-causing substances. Smokers may reduce the harm they cause themselves by consuming more snus, and fewer cigarettes. The dilemma for tobacco companies is whether they should introduce snus in markets where they sell cigarettes. And, if so, should they market it as a compliment to cigarettes, to be consumed where smoking is banned, or as a substitute to cigarettes, with the aim of smokers quitting cigarettes altogether? The sale of snus is banned in the EU (except in Sweden) but legal in other countries like the US and Japan. The dilemma for policy makers is whether to legalize snus and how to regulate it where it may be legally sold. The case explores the co-dependence of marketing in the private sector and public policy, and how each side must take the incentives, actions and reactions of the other into account.

Tobacco, Public Health, Regulation, Branding
Published Sources
© 2006
Available Languages
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Teaching note
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