Finland was expected to be the first EU member state to become smoke-free, but Sweden got there first by endorsing the use of snus.
A recent report by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) looked into the use of cigarettes (which are still the predominant type of tobacco consumed in Finland), snus and e-cigarettes, from 2000 to 2019. The findings indicated a reduction in the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and an increase in snus consumption.
Despite the promising figures, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has just announced a proposal that will further tighten restrictions on outdoor smoking, effective January 1st, 2022. These would include places such as bus stops, public beaches, children’s playgrounds and some outdoor terraces becoming completely smoking-free.
Moreover, in line with regulations set in place by several other countries and European nations, the proposal is also calling for plain packaging regulations. To this effect, brand names and logos would be removed from tobacco packaging, as of the beginning of 2023.
Back in 2010, Finland had announced it aimed to eliminate the use of tobacco products by the end of the year 2040. Following measures enacted under the 2016 Tobacco Control Act, the country was expected to be the first EU member state to achieve this goal and become smoke-free by 2030.
However, neighbouring Sweden got there first and is known for having reached this status by adopting a harm reduction strategy in favour of a forbidding stance. The country has done this by endorsing the use of snus for smoking cessation.
Throughout the EU, this product is only legal in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and given that its consumption does not require combustion, it is considered an effective harm reduction tool. In fact, snus has not only led to Sweden boasting the lowest smoking rates in Europe, but more importantly also to reporting the lowest rates of lung cancer across the continent.
Read Further: MedicalXpress