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Thread: Snus history in Australia

  1. #1
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    Snus history in Australia

    Hi All

    I found this on my interweb travels its a good read, though be warned it will make you mad

    SMOKELESS TOBACCO IN AUSTRALIA
    Background
    by Dave Fullarton, STAG Convenor


    In Australia, there was a free trade on Smokeless Tobacco (S/T), including all types and brands, until the laws were changed in 1989. At that point, the most popular moist snuff was US products such as Copenhagen and Skoal. After what S/T users have been through to this point, we now call those days, the “Good Old Days”.

    The year 1989 brought a prohibition on S/T, forbidding the sale and manufacture of oral tobaccos in Australia. Interestingly, there was no production of S/T going on at that or any other time in Australia.

    However, S/T users soon realised it was still possible to buy S/T in other countries and have it posted to Australia for personal use. This unfortunately caused many S/T users to revert back to smoking due to the fact that many did not own a computer for easy connection to the US S/T stores.

    Since then, there has been a further prohibition put in place forbidding the import of S/T for personal use in Australia, which was founded in late 1999.

    Unfortunately, S/T users were not informed of this change and all S/T orders were confiscated at customs and duly destroyed. It was estimated by a customs official that between 30 and 40 large packages of S/T arrived at customs in Brisbane each week alone. This could be a in the vicinity of 600 to 900 cans of snuff which not only cost a great deal, but ceased any further snuff use to stop the smoking habit.

    After much correspondence with the Dept. of Health and Aged Care in Canberra, it was determined that the initial decision for the total ban on S/T was actually made for the following reasons.

    1. It was claimed that East Indians were getting cancer from chewing tobacco. This research was misinterpreted as East Indians use beetle nut and a lime compound unlike US or Swedish oral tobacco products as the Government presumed. This East Indian product isn’t even considered tobacco.

    If the Government was truly serious about our health, they would have completely banned 3rd world so called chewing tobacco from even personnel use but oddly enough it is still considered in the same category as much safer US and Swedish snuff/snus.

    2. It was also claimed that someone was selling Copenhagen snuff to Aboriginals in Australia illegally. Aboriginals use either Log Cabin (smoking) tobacco mixed with ash to improve the flavour and release the nicotine or Copenhagen snuff. But unfortunately most chose to smoke instead, which is the single biggest health problem with among Aboriginal people.

    The Hon. Joe Hockey informed us that the total ban was first recommended and backed by the World Health Organisation. In fact, the WHO does not recommend the prohibition of any smokeless tobacco product, which was later confirmed through correspondence with the WHO.

    Finally reaching a step closer, we were requested by the Dept. of Health and Aged Care to write to their Department and explain how S/T was used and what its effects were. We were also asked to explain what S/T uses now use in the absence of S/T.

    We informed the department that most revert back to smoking because they are unable to find the nicotine elsewhere. We also passed on research completed by Prof. Brad Rodu (Endowed Chair on Tobacco Harm Reductions at the University of Louisville, Kentucky). The research stated that US and Swedish snuff was at least 98% safer than smoking.

    Not long after this correspondence, we were informed by the Dept. of Health and Aged Care that they were recommending that S/T be allowed back into the country for personal use only, due to the lesser health risk as compared to smoking.

    It was estimated at that time that there were between 5,000 and 10,000 S/T users in Australia and not one of these people was warned that they would be no longer able to bring S/T into Australia.

    As a matter of interest, QUIT Victoria has estimated that there are up to 20,000 S/T users and we have another Treasury document that also estimates the same scale of S/T use.

    As a consequence, their tobacco needs had to be relieved by either smoking or chewing tobacco that has been manufactured for smoking.

    We then spoke to personnel in the Treasury Dept. who informed us that if we faxed them a request they would forward us a permit to get any future tobacco out of customs. They also stated that this procedure was only for a short time and in the near future we would be able to bring in an agreed amount of S/T for personal use and no permits would be required. A fax was sent and the permit arrived soon after.

    About one month after this we were informed by several people that they were required to pay a customs tariff and GST on all of their S/T entering the country.

    The customs tariff as it stood was code: 2402:2091 and was $235.90 per kilo plus GST. The average order amounts to approximately $5 per 30gm can and the duty and GST brought the cost up to about $17 per can.

    Inquiries with Customs in Canberra confirmed the following.
    Chewing tobacco was considered “other” in the schedule. There are several types of tobacco products which should be explained at this point.

    - Firstly, there is the smoking type of tobacco which is commonly known, understood and readily available.

    - Secondly, there is chewing tobacco which comes in a large moist leafy form.
    This is chewed in the side of the mouth and is not so popular in Australia.

    - Thirdly, there is snuff which is described in the Websters Dictionary as “a preparation of pulverised tobacco to be inhaled through the nostrils, chewed, or placed against the gums.”
    The latter includes such products as Copenhagen snuff which is the majority of S/T coming into Australia.

    - Fourthly, there is snuff which is only taken by sniffing into the nasal cavity which is also not popular in Australian as it feels like an angry bee has just been let loose up you nozzle.

    At that time the fourth snuff was coded: 2403.99.20 and the tariff was $1.92 per kilo.

  2. #2
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    Customs had no official description of snuff and as a result they went from the dictionary, presumably the Oxford or the Macquarie which are both English and Australian. The most common type of S/T is Copenhagen snuff which came under the description of snuff in the Webster’s dictionary and the Collins dictionary which interestingly enough is also Australian.

    As this type of snuff is an American product and not commonly know in England or Australia, one would think it would have been more prudent to go under the Webster’s description in the first place.

    After many letters and phone calls this problem was sorted out and Copenhagen was classified as snuff and the customs tariff was applied accordingly at $1.92 per kilo.

    That was where we stood until recently when we became aware of several S/T parcels being stopped as customs and a customs tariff of $290.71 per kilo plus GST was applied. Once again we felt like we had been gut-shot and hauled out to the hogs.

    After many phone calls it was determined that the Treasury Dept. was responsible for the change in the customs tariff and the decision was made some time ago with the inclusion of interested parties.

    We would like to point out some concerns we have in relation to this matter.

    You would presume the parties affected would be primarily the people who import S/T for personal use. Apparently not so, even though they would have been easily contacted by attaching an information sheet to each S/T parcel that passed through Customs.

    Most of the parcels arrived opened so we know these parcels come to the knowledge of customs.

    To our knowledge, no S/T user was informed of this change or invited to partake in the decision making process. It struck me as funny that at that time not one politician we contacted had ever seen a can or snuff or knew someone who used it. They had however seen Clint Eastwood spit on that dog in “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.

    We were promised after years of debating with the Federal Government departments that we would be invited to comment on any future changes, but this has never eventuated.

    Moist snuff contains 50% water and therefore is much heavier than its counterpart, cigarettes. For this reason we would presume that it would be placed into a category of its own as it was before the customs change.

    The customs tariff has recently increased to $309.47 per kilo which totals over a 650% rise in a year. Copenhagen can end up costing $25 per can because of the tax, when its original cost is approximately $5 to $7 a can.

    Most of the S/T users in Australia are either people on the land including people in the horse industry, Aborigines or construction workers such as pipeline workmen and miners.
    I would suggest that the increase in customs would make S/T financially beyond the reach of most of these people as many are in the lower socio economic section of our community.

    People should be encouraged to use S/T as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco as they do in Sweden. Sweden had the lowest cancer rate in men in the developed world and this is directly attributed to their use of snuff/snus over smoking. Aborigines in particular would greatly benefit from leaving the tariff low because of the high incidence of smoking among them and a tradition of using “pituri” orally, a nicotine bearing native plant.

    We suggest that far more people are affected by this customs rise as our multicultural society now includes Americans, Canadians, Swedes and Danes who use S/T on a regular basis.

    WHERE WE STAND NOW

    The customs tariff is now up to $309.47 per kilo and inquiries from many snuff users indicates that most are either smoking or smoking and using snuff when they can afford it.

    Recently Leonie Holloway from the Office of the Treasurer (Wayne Swan's office) stated that, “the legislation continues to allow for the restricted importation of snuff tobacco for personal use.” That is like saying, “Everyone has the right to buy a Mercedes car”, but if most can't afford it the option is meaningless.

    Our stand is that the customs tariff on US and Swedish snuff should directly reflect snuff being 98% less harmful than smoking. After all, the customs tariff on smoking tobacco is put there for two reasons and neither of these reasons is relevant to snuff tobacco.

    The first reason is to protect local industry and, as we know, snuff is not made in Australian.
    The second reason is to deter people from using cigarettes which will kill 20,000 smokers a year alone. As we have seen from Government department arguments, they posses little research to indicate that snuff is harmful, while there are many respected health professionals supporting S/T as a harm reduction measure for smokers and therefore preventative medicine.

    The Government's main argument is embodied in this statement from Annette Ellis MP – Member for Canberra.

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) smokeless tobacco constitutes a significant part of the overall world tobacco problem. Various international studies have found conclusive evidence that smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancers and diseases such as dental caries, gingivitis recession, tooth attrition, oral mucosal lesions; cardiovascular risk factors and diseases; diabetes; reproductive health effects; and overall mortality.

    In February 1995 the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control came into force as an international legal instrument (a global treaty). This treaty addresses the health, social environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption. Australia is a signatory to this treaty.

    So now we have foreigners directing the decisions we will make about our health and our own democratically elected Government blindly enforcing their rules. We have found that when we argue each point and support it with well credentialed research such as you see on this website, most politicians go straight back to blaming the WHO.

    Many divisions of WHO are actually quite supportive of harm reduction strategies (drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, etc), so we should not focus our criticism on WHO entirely, but on the subgroup Tobacco-Free Initiative. The TFI seems to be composed of abolitionists who will adamantly oppose any harm reduction efforts. On the other hand, the WHO leadership should not be excused for tolerating such extreme and unproductive positions. As a result of this there are many inconsistencies between various sections of the WHO.

    A key organisation responsible for documenting the causes of cancer is the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Through its monograph program, IARC has been considered as an authoritative source for such information. However, lately its leadership has become much more political, and the rules for labelling an agent as a carcinogen have changed. For example, for an agent to be listed as a carcinogen, the old rules required substantial evidence from either human studies (mainly epidemiologic) and/or animal studies (mainly laboratory).

    Under these rules nitrosonornicotine (NNN), a nitrosamine compound found in tobacco (in Swedish and American moist snuff products, in vanishingly small concentrations recently), was listed as Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans). This was entirely appropriate. But under new rules adopted recently, the working group is given great latitude to go far beyond the evidence in listing agents as carcinogens. Thus, the listing for NNN was changed in 2004 when the smokeless tobacco working group decided that this agent was Group 1 (carcinogenic). In other words, the evidence didn't change, so IARC changed the rules. Of course, the working group is carefully chosen in the first place to be composed of hard core anti-tobacco crusaders, so smokeless tobacco will likely be described in the worst possible way.

    When IARC first listed smokeless tobacco as a Group 1 carcinogen in 1987, it did not distinguish between products from Sweden and those from India and Asia. To be fair, the evidence that there were differences was limited and perhaps not well understood. However, now there is clear evidence, so it is bad science, even bordering on fraudulent, for the current working group not to make the distinction.

    Many of the world's health organisations have passed judgment on smokeless tobacco, and politicians are able to hide behind these official reports. Michael McFadden has written a book called "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains” in which he describes the tactic called “Appeal to Authority”. An excerpt:

    "In the Appeal to Authority the debater will simply seek to have listeners agree with him or her by pointing to someone's credentials or mentioning the name of someone famous and respected as supporting their argument. The effect is again one of transference: instead of examining the substance of the argument, the audience simply accepts that it must be true because of the 'Authority' associated with it."
    Pipesub and jedw757 like this.

  3. #3
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    "On an extended level, anti-smokers often use this approach when they make such claims as 'Every major health agency in the world supports us.' That may or may not be true at various times; but if it precludes real examination of the facts it is by no means helpful in the search for genuine truth."

    It is all confusing but basically it boils down to this. We live in a free country, but our elected Government has taken our choice away when it comes to using snuff. The large cigarette companies have free rein to sell their dangerous products in every corner store in the country and are protected by government from legitimate competition. Is that fair and equitable?

    It has recently been suggested by health officials that snuff/snus should be sold from under the counter in pharmacies. They can't be serious. US and Swedish snuff/snus have a very short life for a start, so they will not tolerate being hidden away for very long in any case. Why would you bring in a new safer nicotine product and then hide it from the people who would benefit from it the most.

    This in my mind would give the cigarette companies a distinct advantage and to this point they have had no real competition. We say that it should be placed right up there boldly beside the cigarettes to level the playing field and to give smokers a choice at the point of sale. A smoker is more likely to make that important choice then and there when they usually make their cigarette purchases.

    They will have a choice from a product that kills 50% of its users or another product that is virtually harmless but still satisfies the nicotine desire. Do you see my point?

    It is the paternalistic and condescending nature of the Government's continuing arguments that riles me and the many thousands of S/T users. We are not children and are not only capable but demand that the Government allow us to make our own health choices.

    We encourage you all to write and keep writing to your local State (don't forget, the each State government has independently banned the sale of snuff in that State) and Federal Ministers demanding that they drop this unfair customs tariff on smokeless tobacco and allow this “safe” tobacco product to become easily accessible through retail stores to at least level the playing field with cigarettes.

    Many S/T users have expressed concern that there will be repercussions if they complain but you can be assured that the G-men won't come knocking on your door late in the night to discuss your problem.

    Writing letters and expressing your opinion is your democratic right and you will get an answer as long as the letter is reasonable and not abusive or threatening.

    Please feel free to contact us at S.T.A.G. if you have any questions on this matter.

    Dave Fullarton

  4. #4
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    The above was taken from here Smokeless tobacco in australia background by Dave Fullarton, stag convenor This site is deff worth a look at imo

  5. #5
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    Just thought I would sticky this for a little while ,just incase new snusers want the info
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pipesub View Post
    Didn't someone post somewhere an excerpt from Cu570m5 that spelled out that tobacco products duty was charged regardless of contents? What about Bedies (sic)? I'm not in any way supporting the charges or against an enquiry but the regs might save some time and frustration
    You can find the ruling here: ATO ID 2011/61 - Excise: tobacco content

    Which says;
    Issue

    What is the meaning of 'tobacco content' for the purposes of Item 5 of the Schedule to the Excise Tariff Act 1921 (Excise Tariff Act)?

    Decision

    Tobacco content includes any thing (including moisture) added to the tobacco leaf during manufacturing or processing. Tobacco content is a reference to the total weight of the tobacco product.

    Thus we have the water tax. Perhaps if all the smokeless tobacco users, cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers contacted their MP's, something might be done but since the tobacco's social engineereing to be a demonic entity is essentially complete, I think that sweet FA will ever be done to reverse taxation. Sugar and junk food is next on the social engineering of tax hikes in my opinion. Perhaps alcohol might get a serve also but not as easily as sugar and junk because it'll have greater appeal to mums and dads to the sweet mantra of saving the kiddies from evil over indulgence of our consumerist desires. Easy tax dollars to extract.

    Also the rates of tax get increased twice a year, in February and August if memory serves me correctly, which might account for the differences in duties having to be paid. I think they usually get it about right but I think the numpties at customs have trouble with arithmetic that also account for discrepancies.

    @Toddosh - 50 cans is a big bill to pay. I did 24 cans in one order late last year and that set me back close to $400

    Gotta get self sufficient if you want to beat the taxes I reckon. Not hard to do but poses some risk.
    Pipesub and spinyeel like this.

  7. #7
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    We should have the right to grow tobacco plants for personal use,like they have in New Zealand. Problem solved.
    Last edited by spinyeel; 23-01-15 at 02:06 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinyeel View Post
    We should have the right to grow tobacco plants for personal use,like they have in New Zealand. Problem solved.
    Sure we should, but that deprives your electrd officials of their paycheck, and we just cant have that




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    Without specific approval, No one has permission to quote me outside of AVF

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhojin View Post
    The above was taken from here Smokeless tobacco in australia background by Dave Fullarton, stag convenor This site is deff worth a look at imo
    Hey Rhojin,
    "paperedu.org" no longer works. I did some digging on STAG and found the following:
    http://taxreview.treasury.gov.au/con..._2008/STAG.pdf
    There is a BigPond address in the PDF so I've sent an email to see if the guy is still active.

    The PDf refers to "smokeless.com.au" but the account has been suspended.
    Further searching turns up "http://stagoz.blogspot.com.au/" where the last activity was Sept 2007.
    I've left a comment there for the owner to have a look at the Snus sub forum here.

    EDIT: and the email bounced
    Last edited by Pipesub; 23-01-15 at 09:34 PM.
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  10. #10
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    thanks pipesub i will have a look tonight and see what i can find
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