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Scanorama, the in-flight magazine of the Scandinavian airline SAS, is to stop carrying advertisements for Swedish oral snuff, snus. That commitment was made by chief editor Jan Kotschack in response to an inquiry from the Swedish Consumer Agency (SCA), a government agency, after three advertisements for snus in the July/August 2005 edition of the magazine were reported for violating the Swedish tobacco law.
A written statement issued by SCA on 1 November pointed out that the marketing of tobacco products with commercial announcements in periodical publications is prohibited under the law. Mr Kotschack replied that SAS Media, publisher of Scanorama, did not completely agree with SCA that the snus advertisements violated the law, in view of the magazine being distributed primarily on international flights and its contents, although focusing on Scandinavian issues, being directed primarily to an international audience.
The issue of advertising for tobacco and alcohol products in Scanorama was reviewed in 1989 by the Swedish Market Court, following a complaint filed by SCA. The court found that the Swedish regulations on tobacco and alcohol advertising that were in effect at the time were not applicable, due to the clearly international character of the magazine.
Since that ruling, several provisions of the tobacco law have been changed, with effect from 1 July 2005. The changes are based on, among other things, European Union (EU) directive 2003/33/EG, which requires all EU member states to prohibit advertising of tobacco products in magazines and other printed publications by 31 July 2005. The only exceptions are trade journals, and publications printed and distributed in third countries and not intended for EU member states. Accordingly, the SCA views snus advertising as violating regulations that apply not only to Sweden, but to all EU member states.
Scanorama also has a Japanese version and may eventually be published in other languages too, reflecting the fact, it points out, that international travellers comprise its principal target audience. Nevertheless, it says it will discontinue snus advertisements in compliance with SCA’s demand. The SCA has decided not to pursue the case to court, accepting instead the voluntary withdrawal of the ads. However, it does not accept the magazine’s view that the ads were not directed to Swedish passengers. It remains to be seen what will happen if they start appearing in foreign language versions of the magazine.
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