Points of interest

ITS’ comments to the report SOU 2015:6 on proposals for legislation to implement the EU Directive on Tobacco Products.

Mortality attributable to tobacco among men in Sweden and other European countries: an analysis of data in a WHO report.

Death by regulation: the EU ban on low-risk oral tobacco

Clive Bates makes strong arguments for lifting the EU-ban on smokeless tobacco.

Read more >

Swedish tobacco experts in double seats

Doctors help to lobby against snus – and for Pfizer’s drugs

Read more (eng) >

Read more (Swe) >

Cut out the smoke, reduce the risks

Points of interest

In addition to own publications we would like to highlight pieces of interesting information in related fields available from other sources. The list will be continuously updated.

It includes:

- Articles in scientific journals
- Commentaries
- Conferences
- Press releases
- Reports
- Useful links
- Other


ITS’ comments to the report SOU 2015:6 on proposals for legislation to implement the EU Directive on Tobacco Products.

Since the objective of the EU Directive on Tobacco Products is to improve public health, the Swedish implementation should take into account the special background factors that are of importance for the health effects of tobacco use in Sweden. While cigarette smoking poses nothing but colossal harm, snus use poses very tiny health risks and has also been shown to play an important role in the reduction of smoking. It is therefore urgent that tobacco control legislation reflects the differences between cigarettes and snus in a way that makes cigarettes less attractive than snus. Then you can be ensured that the existing trend to use snus instead of cigarettes continues and consolidates the current health benefits that, among other things, mean that Swedish men have Europe’s lowest mortality from diseases attributable to tobacco use.

Full text PDF (English)
Full text PDF (Swedish)


September 10-12, 2013

This is an important conference. What makes it even more important is that it is held in India rather than the US or EU. We can talk as much as we want but the fact is that the largest problems with tobacco use is not found in the western countries but in the part of the World where more than half of the world’s population lives.

But this is at the same time a problem. Once the countries where the smoking prevalence and tobacco related illnesses now are low was once in a similar situation as for example India is now.

We have made the journey but have not been able to translate our experience in a way that it is applicable to other cultures and situations.

Many of us working towards a tobacco free world are stuck in diskussions About for example whether there is a 95 or 99 percent health gain if a smoker switch from smoking to use of Swedish Snus. We argue about whether or not the warning lables should be this percentage of the pack or this.
Let us instead join forces and translate our experience so that other don’t have to invent the wheel once again.

Please do not say NO to other peoples experience rather say YES and ask ourselves HOW.

2013 SRNT International Meeting

March 13-16, 2013
Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

2013 SRNT Call for Abstracts
2013 SRNT Call for Abstracts Now Open!
Submission Deadline: September 14, 2012

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Submissions must be received electronically and no later than 11:59 P.M. PST on Friday, September 14, 2012, to be considered for inclusion in the program. Please review the submission instructions carefully.

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Swedish tobacco experts in double seats

(This is a rapid translation of the original article published in the Swedish daily Newspaper Aftonbladet 18/5-2012)

Doctors help to lobby against snus – and for Pfizer’s drugs
They are the National Public Health Institute’s experts on tobacco.
They propagate against snus and for the anti-nicotine drug Champix.
While they are working for Pfizer – which lobbies against snus and manufactures Champix.
- This could damage the authority’s credibility, says Thomas Bull, a professor of constitutional law, to Aftonbladet.

Professor Hans Gilljam at the Karolinska Institute is one of the most common names when it comes to tobacco control.

He also pops up frequently as an advocate of the controversial drug Champix, which both in Europe and the U.S. is linked to suicides and heart attacks.

Gilljam represents the organizations Physicians for Smoking and Tobacco Facts think tank, which receives one million Swedish kronor in grant from the Institute of Public Health, FHI, every year. He appears in the writings of facts about tobacco on the agency website.

He often advocates Champix as an effective method to quit smoking and using snus.

Nowhere at FHI it could be found that Gilljam also collaborates with Pfizer.


First speaker

When Pfizer launched the drug in Sweden in 2006 was Gilljam first speaker at the Radisson SAS Scandinavia Hotel in Gothenburg.

In October 2007 he allowed himself to be offered by the company on a one-week conference trip to Madrid.

His study that demonstrates that Champix works well against the use of snus was paid by the company and by May of last year is Gilljam listed as the contact person at Pfizer’s press material for a study that shows that few manage to quit smoking without help.

To the reporter from Aftonbladet, Gilljam states that he works volunteer for Pfizer.

- I meet them and talk to them, but never take any compensation from them.

If it can be seen as problematic because he is both FHI’s and Pfizer’s expert, says Gilljam:
- It is more problematic that there are not more experts on the drug for smoking cessation. of course can the question of credibility be asked. But it strikes me as FHI’s problems.


”I do not advertise”

Gunilla Bolinder, chief physician at Karolinska University Hospital, although she is on the board of Physicians for the Prevention of tobacco and the other of FHI:s frequently consulted experts, sitting in Pfizer’s ”advisory board” as an adviser.

- I’m sitting there saying that they are not needed. I’m really not a pill advocates. I do not advertise for Champix, I really do not, she says.


But you are included in Pfizer’s press releases in which you speak well of Champix.

- I do? It’s weird. That I do not know of. They have not asked me.

In a Pfizer press release from March 2009 Bolinder says: ”Every fifth patient was smoke free after one year and this is a very good result.” She is also the contact person for questions.


Copies Pfizer EU response

Prior to this fall decision of a new tobacco Directive in the EU has the commission requested comments.

Pfizer has issued a response template that among other things says, ”It is a top priority to maintain the sales ban on snus. There is no reason to introduce yet another harmful product.”

Response identical to Pfizer’s template has been received by the Commission from several agencies, including the organization Physicians for Smoking and Tobacco Facts think tank.


Deniest extension

When Aftonbladet calls Barbro Holm Ivarsson, President of the FHI-supported Psychologists against Tobacco, she becomes suspicious when the question of Champix comes up.

- How is it that you ask? In what context then, so to speak? In what capacity are you calling?

As a journalist.

- Yes, but I have many different roles as well.

I’ll call you as representatives of Psychologists against Tobacco.

- Okay, now I understand.

         Is Champix something you would advocate?

- It depends. It’s one of the medicines recommended for those who find it difficult to stop smoking and there is even one study (Hans Gilljams, editor’s note) to show that it can help snus users.

         Are you sitting in the Pfizer Advisory Board?

- No. I have no affiliation with any pharmaceutical company at all.

         Not at all?

- No.

         But you are connected to FHI?

- I am hired as a consultant by FHI. They have hired me as a consultant for many years. They have a number of experts they consult on various areas.


Approved applications Pfizer

At Pfizer’s website there is, among other things, their internet program Life Rewards, for people who want to quit tobacco. It recommends Champix, and it says to be approved by you.

- I reviewed it as an independent consultant 2006 But I’ve never had any ties to drug companies.

At FHI’s website there is a publication by you about smoking cessation in which you express yourself as FHI’s expert. At the same time there are press releases from Pfizer with your recommendations on the drug. Is it a problem do you think?

- It’s nothing to do about it. For several years I have had the stand point that I under no circumstances will do any assignments on their behalf.


Looked favorably on Champix

- I used to work at FHI and finished in 2006. When I worked there we had a very positive view on to express ourselves in favor when some new drugs came out, such as Champix. There was nothing strange at all.

- But then, it has become increasingly evident that drug companies’ primary interest is not to keep people healthy. Their primary interest is always to make money. Then I can help and cooperate with them. However, I must recommend their products. It is based on scientific evidence.


Christina Astrén Eriksson, Senior Vice President, Pfizer, says that those who participate in the company’s Scientific Advisory Board are paid. However, no one is compensated for participating in the press material, said she.

So no one is paid for recommending your products?

- It does not work that way.


”You start to wonder”

According to Thomas Bull, a professor of constitutional law at Uppsala University, it is essential that public opinion as an authority operates is based on a scientifically base.

- There may be worries about someone who is employed or are independent of the FHI has ties to private industry.

- It is especially tricky if you openly advocating a product, they have their own interests to do. There is a concern that it gives the impression of representing an agency’s view. It is something that in the long run can damage confidence in the authority. One begins to wonder in what other areas it looks like this?


”Sometimes mistakes are made”

FHI’s Chief Legal Officer Ingrid Millet says that tobacco is one of the areas where the number of experts are few.

- It’s a dilemma we have in such a small country like Sweden. In some areas there are no experts who are not related to pharmaceutical companies, she says:

- People should be able to have confidence in the assessments made by our agencies and we are constantly working on this issue. Sometimes it is clear that mistakes are made. But all the experts we hire declares their conflicting interests and we work with transparency.



2012 SRNT 18th Annual Meeting

Houston, USA, March 13-16, 2012

The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) is the leading association focused on this special area of research. SRNT was founded in 1994 to coordinate and advance research on a broad array of topics ranging from the pharmacology of nicotine to the societal influences on use of tobacco. The Society has flourished in the years since its inception and now has over 1100 members, in more than 40 countries around the world.

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15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH)

Singapore March 20-24, 2012

The World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) is the premier, international conference on tobacco control. It is held once every 3 years, and attracts thousands of academics, health professionals, non-government organisations and public officials from more than 100 countries.

The 15th WCTOH will be held inSingaporefrom 20 to 24 March 2012, and aims to establish, engage and support local, regional and international partnerships through the conference programme activities and networking sessions.

The theme ”Towards a Tobacco-free World: Planning Globally, Acting Locally” encompasses our vision of a world that is free from the harmful effects of tobacco. Our goal towards a tobacco-free world is hampered by the globalisation of tobacco marketing, trade, research, and industry influence. We, as a global community, must therefore plan at a global scale to counteract the tobacco epidemic. Our theme revolves around the idea that for global plans to be effective, positive and effective action needs to be adapted to the local regional needs of different communities around the world.

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14th Annual meeting of the SRNT Europe SRNT- Europe

Helsinki, FINLANDAugust 30–September 2, 2012

The conference venue is theMainBuildingof theUniversityofHelsinki, located in the very heart of the downtown, next to theSenate Square.

The mission of the SRNT Europe is to stimulate the generation of new knowledge concerning nicotine and tobacco at any level of research, from molecular to societal.


  1. To organise scientific meetings and publications fostering the exchange of research information on nicotine and tobacco.
  2. To encourage scientific research on public health efforts for the prevention and treatment of tobacco use and dependence.
  3. To educate and train researchers and clinicians to be able to conduct such research and apply its results.
  4. To provide a framework by which legislative, governmental, regulatory and other public agencies can obtain expert advice and consultation on nicotine and tobacco.

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54th ICAA International Conference on Alcohol and Addiction

Montreal,Canada, November 12-16, 2012

ICAA is one of the oldest non-governmental organisations active in the field of dependenies. Having celebrated  its 100th anniversary in 2007, ICAA continues to be dedicated to prevent and reduce the harmful use and effects of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and addictive behaviours on individuals, families, communities and society.

Through a range of acitivites at international, regional and local levels and services provided to its membership and the interested public at large, ICAA sensitises, empowers and educates organisations and individuals in the interest of public health, personal and social well being.

ICAA believes in the exchange of evidence-based knowledge and innovative approaches. It is committed to undertake this in an independant, apolitical, inclusive and transparent manner.

The 54th International Conference on Alcohol and Addiction will take place inMontreal,Canadabetween the 12th and the 15th of November 2012 and will be one of the most exciting ICAA events yet delivered.

Addressed by some forty speakers of the highest international standing the Montreal Conference will deliver an unrivalled scientific programme of interest to policy makers, researchers and practitioners alike.

The opportunity to share good practices and new thinking in a truly international and multi-disciplinary setting is rare. ICAA is committed to meeting this need and, as ever, we invite attendees to submit abstracts of papers to be presented in the ICAA Sections’seminars, workshops and major sessions.

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