In May 2017, Sweden was commended for reaching a smokefree status with its smoking rate dropping to 5%. Fast forward to 2023 and the rate has dropped further.
A chart published in May 2017 by the EU as part of a survey looking into smoking behaviour across the union, had listed Bulgaria, Greece and France as the EU countries with the highest smoking rates. Whilst at the bottom of this list were the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, all at 16%, and finally, Sweden, at an impressive 5%, a percentage which is globally considered as equating to being “smokefree”.
Sweden is known for having reached this status thanks to adopting a harm reduction strategy in a favour of a forbidding stance. This was done by endorsing the use of safer nicotine alternatives for smoking cessation, of which the most commonly used is snus. Snus is a moist powder tobacco product that is placed under the upper lip for extended periods.
Subsequently, a more recent report highlighted that in the coming months the smoking rate will be dropping below 5% and details the approach which led to this success. Anders Milton, one of the report’s authors, highlighted that if other EU countries copied Sweden’s strategy, the situation in Europe would look different.
“Quitting smoking like Sweden saves lives,” said Milton. “It has annually saved more than 3,400 lives in Sweden. If all other EU countries did as Sweden did, 3.5 million lives could be saved in the coming decade in the EU alone.”
An unreasonable tax proposal
Meanwhile a recent EU tax proposal would raise the union’s minimum excise tax on cigarettes from €1.80 to €3.60 per pack of 20 and the tax is also being proposed for safer alternatives such as vapes. Sadly leaked documents indicate that the plan is to force Sweden to set in place the tax on snus at an unreasonable level, despite the evident success it is having.
In a press release last week, founder of the EUforsnus movement (@EU4snus on Twitter) Bengt Wiberg explained that the group will now start using hashtags #VetoEUsnusmurder, #EUsnusmurder& #StopEUsnusmurder, and is getting in touch with harm reduction entities to draw attention to the matter.