Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has issued an action plan on tobacco that is said to show how the country can achieve its aim of eliminating the use of tobacco products by the end of 2040.
The Roadmap towards a smoke-free Finland includes “measures to prevent smoking initiation and to help stop smoking, as well as initiatives for extending smoke-free habitats and preventing new products from reaching the market,” according to a ministry press note.
“In addition to health promotion measures, changes to legislation are set out as well as better ways of implementing the current legislation.
“The attractiveness of tobacco products should be reduced by standardizing packaging, so that the products come in unbranded general packages.
“Tax on tobacco should be raised on a regular basis, taking into account traveler imports and illegal market trends.
“To extend smoke-free habitats, housing companies should be able under certain conditions to restrict or prohibit smoking in residential properties. Smoking should be banned in private cars when minors are present, as well in playgrounds, amusement parks and on beaches.
“Municipalities and workplaces are encouraged to declare themselves smoke-free.”
The plan comes down hard on e-cigarettes and seems to be based on a quit-or-die ideology rather than a harm-reduction one.
“In addition, the plan presents improved support in health care for stopping smoking, prevention of market access for new tobacco products, regulation of e-cigarettes containing nicotine in the Finnish Medicines Act, as well as banning the use of e-cigarettes in the same premises where smoking is prohibited.”
The minister of health and social services, Susanna Huovinen, was quoted as saying the ambitious objectives of the Tobacco Act could be achieved.
“Through systematic work we have been able to substantially reduce smoking in Finland.
“We know that smoking usually starts in adolescence. The plan in particular wants to protect children and young people from tobacco.
“The majority of smokers regret having started smoking at a young age.”
Finland has already had considerable success in reducing smoking. Only about 16 percent of Finnish 15- to 64-year-olds smoked daily in 2013. And only about 13 percent of 14- to 18-year-olds smoked in 2013, down from 26 percent in 2001.
Smoking was said in the press note to be the single largest “cause” of health inequality between socioeconomic groups in the Finnish population, and together with alcohol explained about half of the health inequalities.