Tougher legislation and more anti-smoking measures have not yielded the expected results in Spain or Australia, two countries where snus is banned.
Spain banned smoking in the workplace in 2005 and in restaurants in 2010. Despite these measures, the number of smokers has increased in the past year.
New figures from the Spanish Ministry of Health show that the proportion of Spaniards between 15 and 64 who smoke daily has increased to 34 percent, compared to 32.8 percent before the smoking ban was introduced in 2005.
The measure succeeded in reducing smoking in the year after the law was introduced, when the proportion of smokers was at 29.6 percent of the population.
Spain’s health minister has no explanation for the increase but notes that more needs to be done to ensure compliance with the law.
Breaking the trend
Australia has some of the highest cigarette prices in the world, and harsh anti-smoking legislation had previously seen a downward trend in the proportion of smokers. But that has now changed.
According to a new health survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the country’s national statistics agency, smoking among adults (18+) has decreased by only 0.8 percent between 2014-15 and 2017-18.
At the same time, the decrease in the proportion who smoke daily over the past three years has been only a third of the long-term trend since 2004, with the report finding that the proportion of smokers in 2017-18 was at the same level as in 2014-15.
During the same period, the proportion of daily smokers in Sweden has steadily decreased and is now the lowest in the EU, with the majority of the country’s 1.8 million tobacco users using snus instead of cigarettes.
“You have to wonder if the efforts of Australia, Spain, and other countries struggling to reduce deadly smoking would have been more successful if snus, which is at least 95 percent less harmful to health, was available as an alternative,” said Patrik Strömer, Secretary General of the Association of Swedish Snus Manufacturers.