The WVA (World Vapers’ Alliance) are urging other countries to “Beat Smoking Like The Swedes“!
Members of the EU have a goal to become “Smoke-free” – meaning less than 5% of people still smoke.
So far the only country on track to meet that goal is Sweden which stands at a staggeringly good 5.6% smoking rate!
In the last decade the smoking rate in Sweden dropped by a whopping 55%! Also smoking related deaths are 22% lower than the EU average.
How Did They Do It?
Just as a contrast the graph below from the WVA shows the comparison of annual declines in smoking rates of different countries from 2012 to 2022.
As you can see Sweden comes out on top, closely followed by Japan, New Zealand, USA and the UK.
The smoking rate in Sweden declined 6 times faster than Australia which has very strong restrictions on Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) products such as vaping.
Sweden embraces alternative nicotine systems – for instance Snus (an oral smokeless tobacco product) is legal and widely used.
Plus they have consumer friendly vape and nicotine product regulation. Heated tobacco and nicotine pouches are widely available too.
Another reason is that all these alternative nicotine products have significantly lower taxes than those applied to traditional cigarettes – which is a huge incentive.
The graph below shows Snus and Vaping have increased in Sweden and the smoking rates have dropped since 2004.
Surprisingly the use of nicotine is pretty much similar to the average in other EU countries! But because the majority of nicotine is obtained in a smokeless way the rates of cancer in Sweden are 41% lower than other EU averages.
You can find more information on the Smoke Free Sweden 2023 website.
The Sweden model of regulation is huge proof that THR is the way to reach smoke free goals.
In the UK our smoke free goal is 2030 – but Cancer Research UK produced a report which stated we may be 9 years behind with a 5% smoking rate not being predicted until 2039.
“If recent smoking prevalence trends continue, average adult smoking prevalence in England will reach 5% in 2039 (see Figure 1). To reach average adult smoking prevalence of 5% by 2030 in England the pace of change needs to be around 70% faster than is projected”
The UK have been praised for their current stance on vaping by the WVA. They examined the THR policies of the world and listed the best regulations in a document called “Learning from the best – a tobacco harm reduction primer“.
Michael Landl the Director of the WVA gave me the following response when I requested a comment…
“Sweden should be a role model for other countries. As the first country on track to achieve the smoke-free goal, it should be an inspiration for sensible harm reduction policies. Risked-based regulation works combined with a variety of less harmful products works. This campaign will highlight the Swedish miracle in Stockholm, Brussels, and other countries and push politicians to open their eyes. It is time to embrace harm reduction instead of fighting it.”
The WVA factsheet concludes with…
“Sweden has emerged as a leader in the fight against smoking, and if other countries follow their approach, millions of lives could be saved. Their focus on tobacco harm reduction products has proven successful, and replicating this approach on a global scale could have a significant impact on public health. The message is clear: if we want to beat smoking, we should look to the Swedes for inspiration and adopt their strategies.”