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Finnish hockey boss looks to ban snus

Finnish hockey players could soon have to do without snus, a Swedish tobacco product popular in some Nordic countries. Snus is illegal in Finland—and now the Finnish hockey association wants its clubs and players to abide by the law.

The chair of the Finnish ice hockey association, Kalervo Kummola, wants a total ban on snus in ice hockey. The moist tobacco product, which is placed under the lip, is popular among hockey players in Finland—even though it’s illegal here.

"Snus is a clear problem in ice hockey and many other sports," said Kummola on Yle’s morning television.

The brown substance is legal—and very popular—in Sweden, and some Finnish sportspeople use it as a less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco. Swedish football coach Sven Göran Eriksson is among the world’s snus devotees, using the substance throughout his three and a half decades coaching outside Sweden. 

It is regarded by the WHO as carcinogenic to humans, however, and Kummola says its use at Finnish hockey rinks must end.

"First and foremost snus is a health risk and an ethical problem," said Kummola. "It’s everywhere at hockey rinks when you wander around."

Kummola says that his proposal will be decided on by the association’s board—and that no relaxation of the ban will be on offer to snus-dependant coaches or players.

"The proposal is for zero tolerance, that much is clear," said Kummola.