Snus is illegal across the EU but is used in Sweden, which has an exemption, and Norway, which is not in the EU
More Norwegians use snus – a form of snuff particular to Nordic countries – instead of cigarettes for their nicotine fix, official figures showed for the first time on Thursday.
The preference for snus in Norway, is certain to revive debate over the health effects of the product, a moist powder tobacco that is popped under the lip.
Though its sale is illegal across the EU, it is manufactured and used in Sweden, which has an exemption, and Norway, which is not an EU member.
According to Norway’s statistics office SSB, 12% of Norwegians used snus daily in 2017, compared with 11% who smoked cigarettes every day.
Under Oslo’s ambitious anti-tobacco policy, Norway became one of the first countries in the world to ban smoking in public places in June 2004.
Cigarettes cost around 11 euros ($13.50) a pack, and Norway adopted neutral packaging last year.
Cigarette smoking has halved since 2007, when daily smokers made up 22% of the population.
But snus consumption has taken off, steadily gaining on cigarettes. In 2016, 12% were daily smokers while 10% used snus, which cost a little over nine euros a box.
The product, which became popular in the 18th century, has become a target for tobacco-busters.
In November, the government won a lawsuit against producer Swedish Match which refused to sell its snus in neutral packaging. Swedish Match has appealed the ruling.