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Published On: Mon, Dec 3rd, 2018

Could Sweden have figured out a way to stop people from smoking?

A chart published in May 2017 by the EU as part of a survey regarding attitude towards tobacco in Europe, lists the percentage of smokers in 28 nations. Bulgaria topped this chart where 36% of its population smokes daily. France and Greece were close behind with 35% of Greece population and 33% of France population smoking daily.

Further down the list, Spain had 26% and Germany 23% of daily smokers. Near the bottom of this list was the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, all at 16%. Finally, represented by a short red line at the bottom of the chart, was Sweden, with 5% of daily smokers. As of 2015, about 15% of Americans were smokers, according to the CDC.

Image/Myriams-Fotos via pixabay

The tobacco-free world campaign

A few years ago, The Lancet, a popular medical campaign journal, launched a ‘tobacco-free world by 2040’ campaign. The journal’s definition of ‘tobacco-free’ was a smoking rate of less than 5%. Surprisingly, Sweden is there already!

Why are Swedes turning away from smoking?

‘Give up’ has been the most common medical advice to all smokers since the 1960s. However, this is not what has been happening in Sweden. The country adopted a unique strategy that largely and naturally replaced cigarettes with a seemingly unique product that offers its users nicotine and tobacco. This product is known as snus and may actually be the very reason Sweden’s smoking rates are so low. Therefore, SnusDirect.com has launched their business of providing other countries with this product, which can be shipped through carriers such as UPS and PostNord.

So what is snus? Basically, it is little portions of moist tobacco that users place under their upper lip. Swedes, Norwegians, and other Scandinavians have been ingesting nicotine via snus (smokeless tobacco) since the 18th century, a habit that changed significantly during the World War II when cigarettes were popular and associated with a high social class. Smoking habit statistics peaked in 1980 when 34% of the Swedish population was smoking daily. Since then, the growing awareness and popularity of snus has brought a consistent, year-over-year reduction in the rate of smoking in Sweden.

Unlike most regions in the world, Swedish smokers already have a traditional way to quit smoking without having to battle with addiction to tobacco. In the early 1990s, cigarette sales dropped significantly. By 1996, snus sales rocketed upward, and more snus cans were being bought than cigarette packs. As of 2017, about 15% of Swedes prefer snus over cigarettes.

You may think that it took a major government campaign to convince people to shift from using cigarettes to snus, but this has not been the case. In fact, it is illegal for any snus maker to claim that their product is better than cigarettes. However, the Swedish government eventually created tax incentives for snus makers. Given the history of Swedes and their unwavering love for snus, it is safe to say that the widespread use of snus in Sweden came naturally.

There is an enormous difference between the smoking rate in Sweden and that of the next country with a low smoking rate. If all nations around the world wants to achieve a ‘tobacco-free world by 2040,’ Sweden and Norway have pointed the way.

Author: Lee Sadawski

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