Tim Haigh

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Tim Haigh blogs on snus issues and regularly reviews smokeless tobacco products.

Snus is currently being sold on the European single market via the internet. The on line sale undermines national and regional tobacco control legislation. The sale is forbidden under Swedish law and three EU Directives. Also see: Snus: EU Ban on Snus Sales. To promote on line sale, the industry has embraced the work of enthusiastic snus users, their blogs, YouTubechannels and the online communities on forums such as the American based SnusCentral.com and SnusOn.com.

By his own admission Haigh has reported close contacts with Swedish Match, the biggest snus manufacturer in Europe, and Northerner Scandinavia, the largest online seller of snus, based in Sweden but also trading from the United States. The evidence presented on this page shows that Haigh has had contact with Swedish Match's Public Affairs staff, and has had meetings with members of the European lobby organisation ESTOC discussing how 'to make some noise' against new regulations.

Furthermore, Haigh played a pivotal role in starting a string of abusive comments about the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath.


Blogging Snus

Haigh is very active online, he signs his postings with this listing:

His Twitter account and his Facebook page are mostly used to promote his blog, Snusify.com, while SnusUK.co.uk is an online seller of snus.

Haigh's blog Snusify.com is a mix of enthusiastic reviews promoting various brands of snus, comments from other snus users sharing experiences, and calls to lobby against the EU ban on snus. On occasion this involves denigrating the tobacco control community. See FoI: University of Bath.

His blog and Facebook page demonstrate that Haigh is notified by Swedish Match when a new product is due to be launched. Haigh blogs about forthcoming products, which effectively aids Swedish Match marketing of their new products.[1]

Promoting Snus on YouTube

Haigh has launched his own YouTube channel The Snusifier Speaks to share product reviews and other pro-snus related content with the world. Between summer 2009 and spring 2012 he put more than 40 videos online.[2]

A February 2010 video shows that "by recommendation of Northerner", Skruf Snus AB (owned by Imperial Tobacco) gifted Haigh two cans of snus "to be one of the first people in the world to try the new snus".[3]

More recently, Haigh's reviews increasingly focus on Swedish Match snus brands. When Haigh has reviewed snus from Swedish Match, he has credited either the company or Northerner for providing him with the tobacco.

In another 2010 video, Haigh said he got the snus from the Northerner, but also mentioned that Markus Ersmark from Swedish Match had emailed him a few weeks before to let him know this snus was coming out.[4] In some reviews he uses official Swedish Match promotional material.[5]

Hospitality of Swedish Match

One of Haigh's videos reports how he and a couple of American snus bloggers were hosted by Swedish Match and taken around Stockholm in May 2011. In the accompanying text, Haigh wrote: "Thanks to Swedish Match for making this trip happen."[6]

The other three visitors were from SnusCentral.com in the United States, and did not know Haigh beforehand according to their report of the trip. 'Tim/Snusify was a virtual unknown to me but Mick, Julls, Feck and their new friend Snusify in Stockholm quickly fit into the group.[7]

Their host was Markus Ersmark, online sales manager for Swedish Match (as of 1 March 2012 he works for the joint venture between PMI and Swedish Match). The snusbloggers toured the company's headquarters, factories and visited the Tobacco and Match Museum. They were entertained with blind snus tasting and allowed to blend their own mix.

When we first arrived at the Gothenburg factory we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Nothing personal mind you; just so we would not be tempted to blab about things we saw that we maybe shouldn’t have seen.[7]

Meeting Swedish Match Public Affairs and EU Lobbyists

Haigh's Facebook page shows that he has had several meetings with Swedish Match Public Affairs people over the past two years.

Tim Haigh's facebook posting from June 2010
  • In June 2010 he met with Cecilia Kindstrand-Isaksson, Director Group Public Affairs and with Joakim Blom, also from Swedish Match. Both are active members of the lobby group European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC), Kindstrand-Isaksson in the tax working group and Blom in the media group.[8] The Facebook entry indicates that they discussed how to make some "noise" in the upcoming review of the legislation in order to get the sales ban on snus lifted. [9]
Tim Haigh's facebook posting from September 2011
  • In September 2011, Haigh had a similar meeting with Rupini Bergström from Swedish Match (and current chairman of ESTOC's media working group), and ESTOC's Secretary General Inge Delfosse.[8] Again, the issue was the current state of the Tobacco Products Directive. Haigh got paid in kind, and called it 'a fun day.' [10]

Involved in Promotion of Online Sale of Snus

Apart from promoting Northerner Scandinavia, Haigh has also encouraged snus users to buy snus online from website SnusUK.co.uk, for example on YouTube in May 2010[11], and more recently on his blog.[12] In November 2011, Haigh posted this message on his blog, which was to give the impression that he had only just discovered SnusUK.co.uk.

Finally there is a new supplier from Sweden that is bringing Snus and American Smokeless Tobacco to the UK and the rest of the EU. In fact they ship all over the world. They are SnusUK.
I have ordered from them now a few times and they are cheap and the shipping is fast. A few days for snus to arrive from Sweden and about 10 days for American Tobacco. (...)
I have asked them to sponsor this site so lets see what they say.[13]

However, Haigh had been promoting SnusUK well before that date.[11]

There are further connections too. The about us section of SnusUK[14] claims that Haigh founded the online shop:

I discovered Swedish Snus a few years ago and was amazed to finally find a great alternative to smoking cigarettes. I then started blogging about this wonderful tobacco. Since then I have visited the Snus factories in Gothenburg, Sweden and got to know the major snus manufacturers. I learned all about how it is made and the stringent quality tests the tobacco production uses. I really believe it is the best way to use tobacco.
So it seemed natural to start SnusUK and supply this high quality smokeless tobacco known as Snus to the rest of the world. (...)
Tim
Founder of Snus UK
(original capitalisation)

SnusUK.co.uk is nevertheless registered to Northerner Scandinavia AB[15] founded by Frank Svandal in 1998. Northerner is a Swedish company that owns more than 60 websites selling snus[16], which all have the same basic structure in layout.

The SnusUK website also has a Dutch version of the about us section. The text on the Dutch page, however, is about 'Frank' (Svandal) as the founder of Swedish-snus.com. This editorial mistake confirms that SnusUK is one of the many websites in the Northerner Scandinavia network.[17]

Started the Targeting of Researchers at the University of Bath

In January 2012, the BMJ journal Tobacco Control published a paper exposing the on line sale of snus, defying the EU bans on such sales. The paper was authored by two members of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath. The paper threatened to put a stop to snus sales to European countries over the internet, much to the disdain of snus users. The page FoI: University of Bath explains how disgruntled users started targeting the authors. Abusive messages on the forum were followed by several intimidating phone calls as well as Freedom of Information requests into the funding of the research.

It was Tim Haigh who first flagged the snus paper at his own blog, Snusify.com. He ended his message with "I would suggest if you feel strongly to send your feedback and opinions to Silvee Peeters at Bath University" (linking it to her Bath email address and misspelling her name).[18]

Screengrab of Haigh's blog Snusify.com about the Uni of Bath article, 30 January 2012, accessed April 2012


Haigh also informed the snus community via Snuson.com, an online forum for snus users. He posted a similar message and a link to his blog, stating that the authors provided the “usual one sided view against snus with a feeling of venom”. Haigh further wrote that

as a result of this Northerner informed me that from February 6th 2012 they will not longer ship snus from Sweden to the EU. This includes all their sister sites such as snusuk etc.[19]

At his initial blog posting, Haigh provided a screengrab and a downloadable version of the Tobacco Control article (the file was called TobaccoNazi.pdf as is visible in this screen grab):

Screengrab of Tobacco Control download called TobaccoNazi.pdf - from Haigh's blog Snusify.com about the Uni of Bath article


Providing a full copy of the article seems to be in contravention of the BMJ Group's copyright rules. Access to BMJ content on line is available either through academic libraries with a subscription or by purchasing a specific article. Both ways of access are restricted. Use should only be for research purposes and licenses do not allow users to make articles available to others by posting on line or by attaching PDF copies.[20]
The BMJ has thus asked Haigh to take down the paper. In April 2012, Haigh reported on his facebook blog that the BMJ had been in touch with him over this contravension.

Comment on Facebook Snusify.com, accessed 31/5/2012


Linking to Chris Snowdon

More recently, Haigh linked up with pro-smoking blogger Chris Snowdon, campaigning against another part of the EU regulation of tobacco use. Until Spring 2012, snus producer Swedish Match (SM) focused on lobbying the EU to lift the ban on snus sales in Europe. But the EU also plans to prohibit certain ingredients in all tobacco products, and that includes snus. And since most snus brands contain ingredients like vanilla, suddenly there is a threat that Swedish snus will become illegal in Sweden. Rupini Bergström, the head of public affairs at SM and active member of ESTOC (who met with Haigh as detailed above] started a twitter campaign [21], and pro-smoking blogger Chris Snowdon joined forces by writing a long blog story called "More prohibition?"[22] as well as an article in Spiked entitled Old moralism in new packaging[23] Haigh wrote about it too, pointing at Snowdon's blog.[24]

Notes

  1. See for instance: Tim Haigh, Snusifycom posting dated 8 July 2011, Facebook, accessed April 2011
  2. Snusify, Search for The Snusifier Speaks, YouTube, 16 April 2012
  3. Snusify, Snusify Reviews: New Skruf Xtra Stark !!!!!, YouTube, 21 February 2010, accessed April 2012
  4. Snusify, Ettan Kardus Snus (Very Rare) 200 year old tradition, YouTube, 25 December 2010, accessed April 2012
  5. See this one for instance: Snusify, Göteborgs Rapé Lös snus, YouTube, 21 May 2010, accessed April 2012
  6. Snusify, Snusify Visits Swedish Match-The Highlights, YouTube, 29 May 2011, accessed April 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mick Hellwig, The Most Exclusive Snus in the World, SnusCentral blog, 2 June 2011, accessed April 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 ESTOC, About Estoc- Structure, organisation website, no date, accessed April 2012
  9. Tim Haigh, Snusifycom posting dated 8 June 2011, Facebook, accessed April 2011
  10. Tim Haigh, Snusifycom posting dated 30 September 2011, Facebook, accessed April 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 Snusify, snusify reviews: göteborgs rapé lös snus, yeah, YouTube, 21 May 2010, accessed April 2012
  12. Tim Haigh, Jacobbsons Melon Strong portion snus isawesome, Snusify.com blog, 1 January 2012, accessed April 2012
  13. Tim Haigh, Buy Snus in the UK, Snusify.com blog, 5 November 2011, accessed April 2012
  14. SnusUK.co.uk, SnusUK.co.uk - about us, no date, accessed April 2012
  15. Domaintools.com, Who is SnusUK.co.uk, accessed April 2012
  16. Peeters, Gilmore, How online sales and promotion of snus contravenes current European Union legislation. Tobacco Control Online First, 21 January 2012 (in print), accessed April 2012
  17. SnusUK.co.uk, SnusUK.co.uk - about us in Dutch, no date, accessed April 2012. The Dutch section is a translation of the 'about us' section that can be found on other Northerner sides, like for instance Swedish-snus.com. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the translation is of low quality, probably machine-generated.
  18. Tim Haigh, The end of online snus sales in the EU, for now, Snusify.com blog, 30 January 2012.
  19. No More EU snus sale again Message posted by Snusify on 30 January 2012 12.47PM on www.snuson.com, accessed February 2012. The Northerner has been supplying its European clients from warehouses in the US, in order to defy the EU bans on selling snus. Three months after the Tobacco Control article on the illegal sale was published, the Northerener suppliers still have snus on offer in their on line shops - also for people living in Europe. New test purchases are needed to find out whether on line purchases can be completed, and if the goods would indeed be delivered.
  20. The conditions for purchase read: "You may view, download, and/or print the article for your personal scholarly, research, and educational use. You may not (i) distribute a copy (electronic or otherwise) of the article without the written permission of BMJ PG, (ii) post the article on an electronic bulletin board or web site, or (iii) charge for a copy (electronic or otherwise) of the article." These conditions can be found by clicking the 'Buy this article' button at the Tobacco Control Journal page announcing the Peeters and Gilmore paper, How online sales and promotion of snus in the European Union contravenes current legislation, accessed April 2012
  21. See her tweets for April 2012 at Bergström' Twitter account
  22. Chris Snowdon, Snus: More prohibition?, Iron Fist, Velvet Glove blog, 21 April 2012, accessed May 2012
  23. Chris Snowdon, Old moralism in new packaging, Spiked, 24 April 2012, accessed May 2012
  24. Tim Haigh, Snus War frak the EU Parliament, Snusify.com blog, 22 April 2012, accessed May 2012