Growing Calls for EU to Reconsider Anti-Smoking Policies and Embrace the Swedish Approach to Beat Smoking

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The EU has so far failed to implement an effective approach to combat smoking rates but Sweden continues to set an example.

Another World Tobacco Day, a date set by the World Health Organisation which aims to raise awareness about the global health risks associated with smoking, passes by with little changes in the state of the smoking epidemic in Europe. Both consumers and Members of the European Parliament are urging the European Union (EU) to take action and follow Sweden’s successful smoking-cessation strategy. The EU has so far failed to implement an effective approach to combat smoking rates while Sweden, the only country in the world about to become smoke-free, is gaining huge attention for its remarkable achievements.

The EU, together with many other countries around the globe, is pursuing a counterproductive strategy to combat the smoking epidemic. Its approach has been that of making alternative products seem as harmful as tobacco, restricting access to them and increasing taxation to make them more expensive and discourage their use. And that strategy is yielding rather disappointing results.

Despite all the efforts made by the European institutions, the overall smoking rate in the EU still stands at 25%, and around 700,000 people die due to smoking-related illnesses every year. But rather than changing its approach, the EU plans to intensify its crackdown on alternative nicotine products, including higher taxation on vaping and flavour bans. Moreover, the idea of legalising snus remains absent, despite the fact that the only country exempt from the ban, Sweden, is the most successful in the fight against smoking thanks to the switch in smokers from tobacco to this less harmful alternative.

 At the end of 2022, the daily smoking rate in Sweden was just 5.6%, by far the lowest in the EU, and the Scandinavian country is expected to reach the smoke-free target of below 5% at the end of the year. 

Julia Kril, World Vapers Alliance

But why is the EU strategy failing? Because its restrictive approach to tobacco harm reduction products gives smokers only two options: total abstinence or smoking. While total abstinence may be the ideal goal for many, it is also highly unrealistic. The demand for nicotine consumption is evident, as millions of smokers worldwide demonstrate. Products like snus, vaping, and nicotine pouches effectively separate the most harmful components of smoking from nicotine consumption. Although not entirely risk-free, these alternatives offer a much less harmful way of consuming nicotine compared to smoking. Therefore, every smoker who switches to these products contributes to improving public health.

The original article is available here

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