Every country located within the European Union made a pledge to reach “Smoke Free” status by the year 2040. This means that the entire countries adult smoker percentage would be at least 5% or less by the time the year 2040 rolled round. A big ask you might think, and it is proving to be with countries like England setting to miss their target by quite some way unless some intervention is given from the appropriate sources to help this target be reached.
But there is one country that stands out from the rest, with the number of adult smokers in the country currently sitting at 5.6% and the projection being made that it will be sub 5% by the end of this year, 17 years earlier than the end goal date set out. And that country in question? Sweden. In this article, I’m going to look at just how Sweden have achieved this monumental feat and how other countries could take their approach to help them along to reach their goal. Let’s get into it!
The World Vapers Alliance Fact Sheet
For reference to write this article, I will be using the very detailed fact sheet written by the team at the World Vapers Alliance, to which I thank them for their hard work for producing not only this amazing piece of literature, but for all their continued hard work they do for the Vaping Industry. Be sure to check them out!
The Decline in Smoking Prevalence in Sweden
The fact sheet starts out by showing the rate of which smoking rates have declined in Sweden in the last 10 years, and it’s very interesting for sure. Check out the graph below to see just how much it has reduced down in the last two decades.
As you can see in the table above, in the last decade alone, smoking rates have gone down by almost 55%! This is the largest rate of decline in any country around the world so it’s not something to be scoffed at, a serious achievement for Sweden! And stemming back further to the mid 1980’s, and smoking rates were around 36% so it’s dropped by 30% and Swedish officials say it’s started seeing a rapid decline in the last two decades most notably.
To make this feat sound even better, the smoking rates in any other country in the EU (and also the UK) are at least 3.5 times more than what it is in Sweden!
Nicotine Consumption Is Similar But Not From Smoking Cigarettes
The fact sheet also highlights the above fact, that whilst smoking prevalence may be considerably lower than any other EU countries, the consumption of Nicotine is very comparative to other countries in Europe. This is largely down to the fact they are advocates for alternate Nicotine products such as Snus and Nicotine Pouches. I’m going to talk about this in detail further on in this article.
And with the lack of smoking happening in the country, this means also that the Cancer rates are considerably lower than those countries where Smoking cigarettes remains so high. Cancer incidence in Sweden is 41% lower than the rest of Europe, with total Cancer related deaths being 38% lower also.
On top of this, smoking related deaths in Sweden are 22% lower than the EU average death rate as well.
How Are Sweden Hitting The Numbers?
This is probably a question you’re asking yourself when reading this, and it’s certainly something I was asking myself when I heard the news, but knowing what is popular in Sweden which I’ve discussed in my previous articles gave me somewhat of an upper hand. So just how have Sweden hit these numbers so fast, and how do they compare to other countries? Well, this graph shows everything you need to know, check it out below;
Credit goes to Dr Colin Mendelsohn for the graph above. Be sure to check out his website if you haven’t already!
As you can see, Sweden rules the roost with the decline figures, closely followed by Japan, then New Zealand and the USA and UK closely following. But what we are going to focus on here is the second half of that table, or the yellow bars to be specific.
Sweden’s decline in smoking went down almost SIX times faster than what it did in Australia and Germany. If you didn’t already know, Australia have very strict policies and regulations on Nicotine alternatives, most notably E-Cigarettes and E-Liquid, making the use of tobacco harm reduction products near impossible unless hoops are jumped through, and even then there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to get exactly what you want or need. And there lies the secret to Sweden’s success in my opinion…they heavily back Tobacco Harm Reduction in their country.
Promotion of Tobacco Harm Reduction is The Key to Success
Tobacco Harm Reduction is exactly what it says on the tin, it’s something that will give a like effect but in the way where any harm that could be caused is reduced. For example, using Snus or Nicotine Pouches will give you the same release of Nicotine you would get from smoking a cigarette, just without actually smoking one and not having to ingest the vast number of toxic chemicals found within cigarette smoke.
On the subject of tobacco, it probably comes as no surprise to you that the primary reason that smoking rates in Sweden are so low is because of the high usage and promotion of Snus. Sweden is the country of origin for Snus, and is one of the only countries that freely sells it without restriction or regulation, and this is a primary factor in smoking rates being so low in Sweden.
If you didn’t know already, Snus is a small, normally white, pouch that contains flavourings and tobacco leaf and is put in between the upper gum and lip, and rests there slowly releasing the nicotine from the tobacco through the gum. It’s been around since the late 1800s and is still heavily used and promoted in Sweden today. It’s actually banned from sale within the European Union as well as the UK which is why you may have not heard of it, and definitely wouldn’t have seen it on the shelves in shops here in England.
Snus is obviously the leading product that has reduced smoking rates in Sweden, but there’s also a couple of other things which is used and promoted alongside. Nicotine Pouches are becoming a popular option for people who want to use Oral Nicotine products, but without the risk of using actual tobacco like what Snus contains. Nicotine Pouches were designed using Snus as inspiration, and instead of tobacco leaf, they just contain a powder Nicotine solution which can be absorbed in the body via the gums, just like what Snus does.
And joining these two things is also E-Cigarettes. Whilst not as popular as Oral products like Snus and Nicotine Pouches, these are still used by patrons of Sweden to help get them away from smoking cigarettes. The chart below shows some interesting stats;
As you can see, daily smokers goes down, and daily users of Snus, Nic Pouches and E-Cigs goes up, which comes as no surprise really and the two go hand in hand really. And due to their free and open regulations on E-Cigarettes, the number of smokers making the transition to vaping has increased quite reasonably and is forecasted to continue to grow as the time passes like it has been.
And on top of this, Snus, E-Cigarettes and Nicotine Pouches all have considerably lower taxation put on them than traditional cigarettes do, which is a pretty handsome incentive to encourage people to make the switch, clever stuff from the Swedish Government if I say so myself!