The drop in Norway’s teen smoking rates coincides with a steady increase in snus use.
The two countries have both banned smoking in public places, together with any marketing of tobacco products. Both countries have introduced plain packaging requirements for tobacco products, if anything Australia introduced it first, in 2012 with Norway following suit in 2018.
Yet while both countries have witnessed significant drops in smoking rates between 2001 and 2018, the percentage of daily smokers in Australia has decreased from 22% to 14%, while Norway’s rates which at 30% were higher at baseline, have dropped to 12%.
The impact of snus
Moreover, the new data has indicated that while the downward trend of daily smokers among 16-24 year olds remained on the same trajectory in both countries until about 2007, in Australia, the pattern eventually reached a plateau while in Norway it accelerated. How? The drop in Norway coincides with a steady increase in snus use. In Australia, snus and other forms of smokeless oral tobacco remain illegal.
Snus is a moist powder tobacco product that is placed under the upper lip for extended periods. It is mostly popular in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, where it is legal and considered an effective harm reduction product. 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.
Australia is adopting the wrong approach
Meanwhile, Dr. Alexander David Wodak, a known Australian advocate of harm reduction with regards to drugs, has long been expressing the need of taking the same approach with regards to smoking. In a recent interview on ABC, Wodak explained how Australia is adopting the wrong approach towards nicotine safer alternatives, leading it to fall behind other countries with regards to smoking rates, rather than making progress.
One of the strong points he made is that “most smokers are low income,” and therefore amongst other things, safer nicotine alternatives should be priced relatively to their risks in order to encourage smokers to migrate to them.
Read Further: Snusforumet