Lars-Erik Rutqvist is Senior Vice President Scientific Affairs for smokeless tobacco (snus) manufacturer Swedish Match. In 2006, the press release announcing his appointment said: 'Cancer specialist strengthens scientific competence within Swedish Match':
Professor Lars Erik Rutqvist has a long and solid experience of both clinical and epidemiological cancer research. He stands behind several of the scientific papers published about Swedish oral snuff (snus), eg. one of the world’s most extensive epidemiological papers on risk factors of cancer in the head and neck, ”Smoking tobacco, oral snuff and alcohol in the etiology of carcinoma of the head and neck”. The paper was published in the well-reputed American scientific journal Cancer in 1998. The result showed an increased risk for cancer with cigarette smoking, particularly in combination with alcohol consumption, however, no increased risk was found for the use of Swedish snus. Furthermore, Professor Rutqvist has published more than 150 papers in international scientific journals.
At the occasion, President of Swedish Match Sven Hindrikes emphasized the need for a scientific base of lobbying for snus:
We need to increase the medical competence within the Company in order to continue to effectively influence the development towards a more pragmatic societal attitude in Sweden, in the EU, but also in other parts of the world, as well as to assist in the development of other smokeless alternatives.
Rutqvist is part of a pool of non-voting industry representatives for the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Risk Communication Advisory Committee.
In January 2012, Rutqvist promoted The Swedish Experience to the FDA's Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee, which was tasked with investigating the public health impact of dissolvable tobacco products in the US.
Rutqvist is an occasional columnist for snuscentral.org, an online forum for snus users set up by American pro-snus blogger Larry Waters. In March 2011 Rutqvist used the forum as a platform to criticise the EU ban on snus sales, which was introduced in 1992 and reaffirmed in the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive. When Sweden joined the EU in 1995 it was granted an exemption on the basis that it would ensure snus would not be placed for sale on the markets of other EU Member States. Snus can only be legally transported from Sweden to other Member States by someone physically travelling and carrying snus for personal use (or as a gift for personal use). In his blog, Rutqvist is critical of the validity of the ban:
- the logic behind this [EU ban on snus sales] is indeed obscure as it has nothing to do with health effects, addictiveness, attractiveness, or any product feature related to these issues.
Furthermore, Rutqvist criticises the EU policy process for being non-transparent and too political:
- In Europe, Mr. Barroso, the head of the EU Commission, has for a long time talked about “better” and “more efficient” regulations. The most recent buzz word in Brussels is “smart” regulations. But there is unfortunately no explicit mention of making them science-driven which leaves considerable room for ideological and political considerations.
Finally, Rutqvist poses the question whether internet sales outside of Sweden of snus are legal, claiming that "no-one really knows the answer". His doubt is in contrast to his company's actions, which openly promotes online snus sales on its website www.generalsnus.com (accessed on 1 February 2011), which includes links to online snus vendors under the header 'where to buy?'.
- Snus: EU Ban on Snus Sales and Illegal Sales of Snus via the Internet
Swedish Match Company profile
- Swedish Match Press Release Cancer specialist strengthens scientific competence within Swedish Match, 27 April 2006, accessed October 2013
- Food and Drug Administration, Industry Representative Pool Risk Communication Advisory Committee, 3 February 2010, accessed 29 March 2012
- Lars E Rutqvist, FDA-TPSAC Meeting on Dissolvable Products Jan. 18-20, 2012 ”The Swedish Tobacco Harm Reduction Experience”, accessed 29 March 2012
- Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, The Nature and Impact of the Use of Dissolvable Tobacco Products on the Public Health: A Report from the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, March 2012, accessed 29 March 2012
- Lars-Erik Rutqvist, Tobacco Control on Snus, Putting Science Back in its Rightful Place,www.snuscentral.org, accessed 1 December 2011
- European Commission. Report from the Commission to the Council on the implementation by the Kingdom of Sweden of the measures necessary to ensure that oral tobacco is not placed on the market in other Member States COM (2010) 399 final. Brussels, 29 July 2010
- Peeters & Gilmore, How online sales and promotion of snus contravenes current EU tobacco control legislation, Tobacco Control Online First 21 January 2012