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‘Snus has Sweden on track to be world’s first smoke-free country’

Only five percent of the Swedish population smokes, meaning the country may soon lay claim to being the world’s first smoke-free country, argues Sweden’s Snus Commission.

“The reason is snus,” the group writes in a new debate article published in Swedish business daily Dagens Industri.

The Snus Commission is an independent collection of experts who produce reports on issues related to Swedish snus.

A new report produced for the Snus Commission by the Novus polling reveals that Sweden can become the world’s first smoke-free country. 

According to survey data presented in the report, less than five percent of Swedes state that they currently smoke. 

The figure confirms that Sweden is well ahead of schedule in reaching the smoking reduction goal set by the country’s Public Health Agency

Fewer Swedes smoke than in neighboring countries

The proportion of smokers in Sweden is thus substantially lower in comparison to other Nordic countries. In Norway, ten percent of the population smokes, in Finland 14 percent and in Denmark 18 percent, according to the Snus Commission.

However, the group laments that the Swedish government remains reluctant to highlight what the Snus Commission considered a “success for public health”.

The reason for the government’s silence?

Many who have managed to quit smoking have done so by switching to snus.

Many Swedes stop smoking thanks to snus

“Considering that our government and public agencies have been very clear that they do not want snus to be used as a smoking cessation product, the figures are associated with an unwanted caveat: This has happened despite authorities’ recommendations, not thanks to them,” write members of the Snus Commission.

The vast majority of Sweden who state that they’ve managed to quit smoking – 70 percent – report having done so without any nicotine replacement products. However, 22 percent report they succeeded in becoming smoke-free with the help of snus. Nine percent state that they have stopped smoking with the help of nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as gum or other products available only from the pharmacy.

But despite the fact that many people choose snus instead of cigarettes, the proportion of total snus consumers in Sweden remains relatively unchanged.

“Using snus to stop smoking has therefore not affected total snus consumption as snus seems to work during a transitional phase and doesn’t result in new long-term consumers,” writes the Snus Commission.

Becoming the first smoke-free country

The Novus survey also asked respondents about their snus use led them to start smoking, a “gateway” argument often used by anti-snus activists in their calls for stricter regulations for snus.

However, the findings from Novus reveal that only three percent of smokers have switched from snus to cigarettes. This can be compared with the 56 percent of snus consumers who state that they switched from cigarettes to the much less harmful alternative to snus.

The Snus Commission is now calling for greater transparency from Swedish authorities if Sweden hopes to become a truly smoke-free country.

“If our public authorities started to speak honestly about the relative health risks of smoking compared to snus, we could come down to the true zero-limit for Swedes’ smoking. That’s the Snus Commission’s ambition. Five percent is still 400,000 individual adults who risk having their lives cut short unnecessarily,” the authors write.

Read more:

New report on snus as a quit smoking aid