Swedish Match

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Image 1:Swedish Match General snus


Vision: “A world without cigarettes”

Swedish Match is a Swedish tobacco company that manufactures and sells snus (image 1), moist snuff, cigars, chewing tobacco, and matches. In 2014 the company presented its new vision: “A world without cigarettes”.[1] The company used to sell cigarettes, but decided in 1999 to divest its cigarette business to Austria Tabak.[2] Lennart Sundén, then President and CEO of Swedish Match, said at the time:

“Cigarette consumption, the industry’s most dominant source of revenue, is declining or has reached a plateau in most Western countries. For Swedish Match therefore, the divestment of our cigarette operations was a natural step. We were a strong player in local markets, but a very small player compared with our main competitors.”[3]

Thirty-eight percent of Swedish Match sales come from snus and moist snuff, generating 62% of the company's operating profit. The company is the only listed European smokeless tobacco manufacturer and has long aspired to become the "global smokefree leader".[4] Following a failed bid to have the European snus sales ban lifted, much of this aspiration now seems to hinge on expanding the company’s US business and introducing snus to new markets outside Europe, Scandinavia, and the US.

Snus Brands

Swedish Match’s main snus brands are:[5]

Sweden - General, Catch, Göteborgs Rapé, Ettan, Grov, Kronan, and Kaliber.
Norway - General, The Lab, Nick & Johnny
US - General

Similar to cigarettes, snus brands are available in different price segments, in particular premium and value price categories.

Company Market Share in Scandinavia & the US

In Scandinavia, Swedish Match has been gradually losing market share following the entry of transnational tobacco companies on the Scandinavian snus market.[6] The company’s market share in both Norway and Sweden has eroded by over 10% according to data from market research company Euromonitor International.[7][8] In Sweden, Swedish Match's market share fell from 98.1% in 2002 to 83.8% in 2009.[7] Likewise, in Norway the company’s market share declined from 91.1% to 80.7%, with the strongest decline in 2008 when both Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco (BAT) almost doubled their Norwegian snus market share.[8] In the US, Swedish Match is the third biggest manufacturer of moist snuff holding a 10% market share in January 2012, compared with market leader Altria (56.6%) and RJ Reynolds (32.2%).[9] Sales of Swedish snus in the US are relatively small, but Swedish Match has increased its marketing to grow these sales, with the company reporting in 2015 that they are the second largest snus seller in the US.[5]

Partnerships and Affiliations


In 2006 Swedish Match entered into a joint venture with Lorillard (the third largest cigarette manufacturer in the US at the time) to develop Swedish-style snus for the US market,[10] but this joint venture was terminated at the end of 2009 following unsatisfactory results.[11]

Philip Morris International

In February 2009 Swedish Match entered into a joint venture with Philip Morris International (PMI) to "commercialize Swedish snus and other tobacco products worldwide, outside of Scandinavia and the United States".[12] The joint venture, of which Swedish Match and PMI owned 50% each, was called SMPM International. The joint venture was criticised for including ‘youth engagement materials’ in a proposed marketing campaign developed for the Russian market in 2012.[13] In July 2015 it was announced that Swedish Match and PMI had mutually agreed to dissolve their joint venture, explaining that the growing demand of snus in the test markets had taken longer than anticipated.[14]

European Smokeless Tobacco Council

In 1989, Swedish Match (then known as Svenska Tobaks), co-founded lobby group European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC).[15] ESTOC's current Chairman, Patrik Hildingsson, is Vice President Communications and Public Affairs at Swedish Match.[16]

Online Marketing Strategy

According to Swedish Match, the Internet is "one of the most important communication channels to its stakeholders, in particular the financial market, i.e. financial analysts, financial media, institutional investors and shareholders, but also other media, business partners, customers, potential new employees as well as our existing employees around the world".[17] As such, Swedish Match has a substantial online presence. The company owns three websites; a corporate website, http://www.svensktsnus.se/en/, and http://www.generalsnus.com/. In addition, Swedish Match directly contributes to online consumer forums and leverages social media to sell its products and push pro-snus messages.

Image 2: Swedish Match employees use online snus user forums to directly communicate with customers (screenshot www.snuscentral.org, accessed 24 February 2011)
Image 3: Swedish Match Vice President Scientific Affairs is a columnist for an online snus user community (screenshot www.snuscentral.org, accessed 3 April 2012)

Social media: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter & the Blogosphere

A 2010 Harvard School of Public Health study examined Swedish Match’s promotional activities and concluded that, in light of increasing advertising restrictions, the company turned to YouTube and other social media to market its products, with none of the company’s YouTube videos having adequate measures in place to prevent under-age viewing.[18] A 2011 social network analysis further demonstrated that Swedish Match employees were active on Facebook and part of a dense Facebook network of snus manufacturers, snus retailers, and pro-snus bloggers that generate pro-snus content, with Swedish Match employee Markus Ersmark the most connected person in this network.[19] Since March 2009, Swedish Match is also active on Twitter: @Swedish_Match. In March 2015, the company had 1800 Twitter followers and 1676 tweets (mostly in Swedish).[20]

Swedish Match has also embraced the ‘blogosphere’, actively nurturing mutually beneficial relationships with key bloggers, some referring to themselves as ‘snus ambassadors’.[21] Swedish Match provides these bloggers with exclusive product information and trial products and the bloggers promote the products and snus use online. In May 2011 the company hosted a delegation of American and British snus bloggers for a promotional tour in Stockholm, visiting Swedish Match headquarters and factories, as well as a Tobacco Museum, all courtesy of Swedish Match.[22] In May 2010 two American bloggers visited Sweden, courtesy of Swedish Match, as was the case in 2009.[23] In 2012, Swedish Match hosted a so-called summit for American snus bloggers in Washington DC.[24]

Swedish Match has an ‘Ask the Manufacturer’ column on the American snus consumer forum SnusCENTRAL.org. In 2009 and 2010, Markus Ersmark (up to March 2012 Swedish Match Online Sales Manager) and a colleague directly responded to consumer questions about Swedish Match snus products and snus use in general (Image 2). Over a period of eight months, the duo responded to 31 consumer questions, started one thread themselves, and in total posted 56 messages.[25]

Online Corporate Political Activity

Lars-Erik Rutqvist, Swedish Match Senior Vice President for Scientific Affairs and occasional SnusCENTRAL columnist (Image 3), has used the SnusCentral forum to criticise the EU ban on snus sales. Rutqvist's blog of 17 March 2011 notes that the EU ban on snus sales was "a strange ban", and that "the logic behind it is indeed obscure".

Influencing EU Health Policy: Undermining the Snus Sales Ban (2009-2014)

In 1992 the EU banned the sales of smokeless tobacco, following an aggressive attempt by a US tobacco company to introduce smokeless tobacco to several European markets in the mid-1980s. Swedish Match has lobbied to have this ban lifted, most recently during the Revision of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

Lobbying transparency

Swedish Match has been registered on the EU Lobbying Transparency Register since 2010. Its 2015 entry[26] says that the company has an interest in EU Better Regulation, and trade matters. The company declared that in 2014 it spent €200,000-€299,999 on EU lobbying activities, which allegedly includes the cost of running the Swedish Match EU office (which has 2 employees) and the costs of other EU lobbying activities. The company did not declare that it used the services of Brussels-based public relations firm Kreab Gavin Anderson to lobby EU policy makers and legislators on their behalf. Kreab Gavin Anderson’s most recent entry on the Register states that in 2013 they received a turnover of €250,000-€300,000 from client Swedish Match.[27] This suggests that the Swedish Match self-declared annual lobbying budget may be on the conservative side.

Public Consultation: Better Regulation, Harm Reduction and Free Trade arguments (2010)

In late 2010, Swedish Match responded to an online public consultation on the possible revision of the TPD. The aim of this consultation, which was run by the European Commission, was to give policy stakeholders an early opportunity to comment on the need to revise the TPD and on several policy options proposed, including maintaining the ban on snus.[28] In its submission, Swedish match claimed that banning snus “denies 106 million smokers in the EU access to a traditional and non-combustible tobacco alternative to their cigarette”. [29] The company further ‘reminded’ the Commission the need for EU legislation to respect the principles of EU Better Regulation. This is particularly pertinent considering evidence that British American Tobacco (BAT), with other companies producing products damaging to health, were instrumental in pushing the Better Regulation agenda in the 1990s, anticipating that it would make it more difficult to pass public health legislation.[30] On the whole, the two main platforms of the company’s opposition to the snus ban were free trade and harm reduction. According to the Swedish Match submission, there should be a “non-competitive regulation or tobacco and nicotine products” [29], which would not create internal market distortions. In addition, Swedish Match claimed that for smokers who do not quit, encouraging them to switch from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco could produce significant public health benefits.[29] The company argued that the conclusions of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) report on the Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco Products, in particular that all smokeless tobacco products are addictive and cause cancer[28], had been misrepresented by the Commission and were not representative of the entire report.[29]

Lobbying of Commission Officials (2010-2012)

Consistent with the company’s previous behaviour, Swedish Match lobbied DG SANCO (Health Directorate-General), and to a larger extent, non-health elements of the Commission, in particular the Secretariat General (responsible for Better Regulation and impact assessments), the Cabinet of the Regional Policy Commissioner Hahn, and DG ENTR (Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General).

Months prior to the public consultation, in June 2010, Swedish Match’s PR firm Kreab Gavin Anderson met with a Cabinet member of Commissioner Hahn, discussing the EU snus ban and “the regional policy aspects of this matter”, which was followed by a subsequent meeting request in October 2010 to discuss “the current status of the issue of sales restriction of the Swedish snus in the EU internal market, as well as the impact of the sales ban on the economy and trade of the Baltic Sea area”.[31] In 2012, Kreab Gavin Anderson arranged a meeting between Swedish Match and the Head of Hahn’s Cabinet to “raise consciousness of the economic arguments related to this legislation”.[32] Swedish Match also approached DG ENTR. In September 2010 the company made a PowerPoint presentation to staff of this Directorate-General, stressing that the EU is now in “the era of better regulation” and that there is “unclear rationale for maintaining total ban”. [5] The company suggested that snus could offer a public health benefit, referring to The Swedish Experience, and suggested a voluntary “science-based non-competitive” product regulation for all tobacco products. In 2012, the company met again with staff from DG ENTR and passed on snus marketing information to challenge the need for a ban on characterising flavours, one of the policy options that was being considered by DG SANCO.[33] The company also met several times with staff of the Secretariat-General, one of the most powerful Directorate-Generals in the Commission. Twice, the company was accompanied by Revolving Door case Karin Riis-Jørgensen, a Danish former MEP and senior advisor of Kreab Gavin Anderson. [34][35] No minutes were made of these meetings so the content of the meetings remains unclear.

Murky Lobbying Practices Exposed: Dalligate and An Untrue Story of Events

On 16 October 2012 EU Health Commissioner John Dalli was forced to resign following an investigation by EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, into bribery claims made by Swedish Match. To read more about this so-called ‘Dalligate’ controversy, see TPD: Dalligate and TPD: Dalligate Timeline.

The scandal, besides raising questions about the transparency around EU policy making, also exposed the murky lobbying practices of Swedish Match in order to have the snus ban lifted. Evidence showed that the company had inappropriately sought access to Dalli in his private sphere in Malta via Gayle Kimberley, a Maltese lobbyist not registered at the EU Transparency Register. Johan Gabrielsson, Swedish Match’s Director of EU Affairs and one of the people at the centre of the scandal, confirmed in a statement to OLAF on 2 June 2012[36] that Swedish Match had paid Kimberley €5,000 to gain access to Dalli and feed him information that would help shape the evidence base on snus in favour of the company’s interests. The company intentionally hid its relationship with Kimberley, who, following a meeting with Dalli in January 2012, reported to Gabrielsson that “the meeting was CONFIDENTIAL and I was in no way representing SM [Swedish Match] just giving the objective position of snus producers and users!”.[37]

In the aftermath of the scandal, the company publicly lied at several occasions suggesting that Kimberley had met with Dalli TWICE, the first time in January 2012 and the second time in February 2012 when the alleged bribery attempt had supposedly been made. In an interview following Dalli’s shock resignation, Swedish Match Vice President of EU Affairs, Patrik Hildingsson, recalled:

“There was a first meeting with Dalli in early January and a second one in February to hand over WHO science on snus. After this meeting she [Kimberley] sounded very upset, saying the meeting was derailed and went in a very odd direction. She told us that during the meeting Dalli had explained that all arguments behind the snus ban were actually in favour of Swedish Match. Then he said that, however, as a health commissioner, his political career would be over if he lifted the ban on snus. He said, according to the feedback I got, that it would be a political suicide to lift the ban. Then he left the meeting and we were alone with a man, an entrepreneur. He was supposed to be a friend of Dalli and did not have any relationship with Swedish Match. He continued the meeting and asked why Dalli would take a suicidal political decision without gaining anything. The solution was simple: we had to pay.”

However, when Hildingsson was sharing this version of events with the media, Swedish Match had already been informed by OLAF that Kimberley had lied about her presence on this supposed second meeting.[38] The second meeting between Kimberley and Dalli had actually never taken place. In a strange twist, Gabrielsson later accused OLAF of advising him to stick to an untrue story of events, placing Kimberley in two meetings with Dalli, where in fact she had only been present at one meeting. Gabrielsson told MEP Jose Bové “I never lied. I just said what I had been told [by OLAF]. That’s not a lie”.

OLAF has denied allegations that it asked Swedish Match to skew the evidence and the Commission has indicated that it will not pursue this any further.

Image 4: Online monthly diary page of Swedish MEP Christofer Fjellner, showing a listed meeting on 10 September 2010 titled (translated in English) "Speak with snus manufacturer Swedish Match" (screenshot taken 30 March 2012)

Lobbying Members of European Parliament (2010-2013)

In January 2013, Swedish Match was a keynote speaker at a Parliamentary event organised by the Brussels Network. MEPs Christofer Fjellner, Syed Kamall and Alexander Graf Lambdorff had organised a meeting with tobacco as the agenda item, with Swedish Match given their version of their involvement in the 'Dalligate' controversy.[39] On this occasion, Swedish Match also stuck to the untrue version of events regarding the number of times their lobbyist met Dalli.[38]

The company appears to enjoy a close relationship with Swedish MEP Fjellner, who has been promoting a pro-snus agenda in the European Parliament and is a vocal advocate for removing the EU ban on snus sales[40]. In 2010 Swedish Match had at least two meetings with the Fjellner,[41] including one a month prior to the MEP launching an EU petition encouraging people to complain to the European Commission about the snus ban (image 4).

Close relationship with the Swedish Government

In a presentation to the US Food and Drug Administration, Lars-Erik Rutqvist, Senior Vice-President Scientific Affairs Swedish Match, noted the "close relationship between industry and government" in Sweden.[42] Indeed the Swedish Government has supported Swedish Match's call for a removal of the EU snus ban for years,[43][44] regarding it a violation of free trade principles rather than a public health issue[45], an argument first presented by Swedish Match over a decade ago.[46] In a presentation to the Commission’s DG ENTR in September 2010, Swedish Match said that “The Swedish Government questions the ban based on proportionality and discrimination”.[5]

Image 5: Screengrab Swedish Match Annual Report 2009

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Boosting Corporate Reputation

In 2009, Swedish Match reported a cash donation to The Salvation Army in response to Australia's 2009 wildfire disaster (image 5). When asked about the size of the donation, a spokesperson for the Charity reported that they had received AU$500 (approximately £256) or only one ten thousandth of a per cent of the company's operating profit.[47]

Funding Harm Reduction Science in the US

Image 6: Screengrab of funding disclosure of the University Of Louisville’s Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research, undated, March 2015

For several years, Swedish Match North America was a financial donor to the University of Louisville's Kentucky Research Challenge Trust Fund (also known as ‘Bucks for Brains’).[48] From 2005 to 2008, Swedish Match spent half a million US dollars to fund the University's Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction held by Brad Rodu(Image 6).[49] Rodu has been a vocal supporter of lifting the EU ban on snus.[50] The tobacco industry has historically used science to oppose tobacco regulation and bias public opinion in favour of the tobacco companies.

Applied to Have Snus Certified as a Harm Reduction Product

In June 2014, Swedish Match applied to the US FDA seeking to have the health warnings of 10 variants of its General snus modified, claiming snus is a harm reduction product.[51] However, an advisory panel to the FDA concluded in April 2015 that the company should not be allowed to change the health warnings, as the company had not provided enough evidence to support that The Swedish Experience could be replicated in the US, and had not sufficiently tested the proposed new health warning to ensure consumers would understand it and interpret it.[52]

  • To read more about tobacco harm reduction, click here.

Board of Directors

Swedish Match’s Board of Directors include:[53]

  • Conny Karlsson - Chairman of the Board since 2007
  • Andrew Cripps - Deputy Chairman. Worked for BAT up to 2005[54]
  • Charles A Blixt - Board member since 2015. Used by to be Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Reynolds American Inc.
  • Jacqueline Hoogerbrugge – Board member since 2015
  • Wenche Rolfsen – Board member since 2013
  • Meg Tivéus - Board member since 1999
  • Joakim Westh - Board member since 2011
  • Kenneth Ek - Board member since 1999 (employee representative)
  • Patrik Engelbrektsson - Board member since 2013 (employee representative)
  • Eva Larsson - Board member since 1999 (employee representative)
  • Joakim Andersson – Deputy member since 2013
  • Eva Norlén-Moritz - Deputy member since 2010
  • Gert-Inge Rang - Deputy member since 2007


Swedish Match’s management includes:[55]

  • Lars Dahlgren - President and CEO since 2008
  • Richard Flaherty - President of US Division since 2009
  • Marlene Forsell – Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since 2013
  • Marie-Lousie Heiman – Senior Vice President Legal Affairs and General Counsel since 2015
  • Fredrik Lagercrantz – Senior Vice President Business Control since 2013
  • Lars Olof Lofman –Chief Innovation Officer, Scandinavia Division since 2013. He is also a Board Member of Swedish Match’s joint venture with PMI, SMPM International
  • Joakim Tilly – President Scandinavia Division since 2013

TobaccoTactics Resources

External Resources

Swedish Match’s website: https://www.swedishmatch.com/


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