The Finnish government is taking steps to make their country tobacco-free by 2040 or in other words, less than 2% of the adults will be consuming tobacco by then. Like other countries, they have banned advertising and created smoke-free public areas. While their neighbor Sweden has promoted snus, a smokeless tobacco product which is considered a “milder product that does less harm,” Finland wants to phase out all products. Their newest approach is being called “innovative and creative” to get everyone to end tobacco.
The first step is to raise taxes. Those who can’t afford to smoke will quit while those who can afford it will be paying for the anti-smoking campaigns. This is considered “the single most effective way to reduce demand.” But Finland is taking it another step and is increasing “the costs for vendors selling tobacco products,” as well as adding a “surveillance fee” which can be as high as $536/year per cashier or checkout and will go to cover costs of surveillance officers who will check on the retailers.
Another creative approach is to ban smoking in private areas if the smoke is affecting neighbors, such as smoking on your private balcony. And forget about smoking in your car if someone under the age of 15 is present.
The government knows to achieve their goal, the number of teens picking up the habit needs to be reduced. Products that imitate smoking, such as candy cigarettes and chocolate pipes will face restrictions. E-cigarettes will continue to be sold and must follow the rules and restrictions as regular cigarettes, but “are no longer allowed to have any flavors.” While some believe the devices can help smokers quit, they support the ban on flavors which are appealing to youth.
Finland is not the only country reducing tobacco use, but they are being called “a pioneer” for setting “a goal to end the problem in its entirety.”