Health advocates urge policymakers to replicate Smoke-Free Sweden

22 February 2024, Stockholm, Sweden – Public health experts have called on the WHO to adopt a Swedish-style approach to beating smoking after it blatantly ignored the Swedish story at its Tenth Conference of the Parties on Tobacco Control (FCTC COP10).

In response to the recent summit in Panama, at which the WHO refrained from endorsing the progress Sweden has made in dramatically reducing smoking rates, public health experts from the Smoke-Free Sweden movement convened a roundtable with politicians to look at what can be done to drive adoption of tobacco harm reduction-based policies around the world.

With its imminent ‘Smoke-Free’ status, meaning smoking rates are about to fall below 5%, Sweden is a prototype for how THR can work in practice. Backed by a 41% lower cancer incidence and a 38% lower cancer death rate than its EU neighbours, the country offers proof that THR saves lives.

Participants at the round table expressed disappointment at the WHO’s refusal at COP10 to acknowledge sensible tobacco harm reduction measures that have already been deployed in countries such as Sweden.

Dr Delon Human, leader of the Smoke-Free Sweden Campaign said “The world is burning with smoking-related diseases, and COP10 refuses to acknowledge the fire escape Sweden has built. Tobacco harm reduction offers smokers a safer way out, and it’s time for global health leaders to embrace it.”

Bengt Wiberg, founder of the EUforSnus initiative, noted: “It is imperative that policymakers are presented with clear and understandable data regarding the health benefits of tobacco harm reduction. Sweden could be the blueprint for this since the Swedish government has studied this for years and has placed full and comprehensive regulations in place for all tobacco-free nicotine products, and it works”

Professor Karl Fagerström, an internationally recognized expert in addiction research and smoking cessation, said: “As the Sweden example shows, the key to advancing efforts in global tobacco harm reduction messaging is reframing our understanding of nicotine. Nicotine in itself has an impact on an individual’s health close to that of caffeine, which has virtually no stigma associated with it.”

Carissa During, a psychology student and founder of Considerate Pouchers stated “Alternative products change people’s lives for the better. They have enabled them to make healthier choices for themselves and provided a route for people to enjoy nicotine without endangering themselves. Some women do enjoy the burning sensation that oral nicotine pouches provide (on the gum), but some women don’t - It’s important to have a range of products to satisfy all needs”.

Jessica Perkins, THR.net co-founder remarked “We must ensure that we get product labelling guideless correct. Many policymakers and consumers do not realise that many oral nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco. Oral nicotine products are a form of nicotine replacement therapy. But the perception of these products is often demonised and incorrect - which leads to confusion over how to regulate them appropriately”.

About Smoke-Free Sweden:

Smoke-Free Sweden is a campaign that encourages other countries to follow the Swedish model when it comes to Tobacco Harm Reduction. Sweden is about to become the first ‘smoke-free’ European country, with a smoking rate of below 5 percent. This remarkable achievement can be attributed to Sweden’s open attitude towards alternative products.

For more information on Sweden’s successful approach to becoming a smoke-free nation, please visit <www.smokefreesweden.org>.

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