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Tobacco policy action programme brightens the road to a smoke-free Finland

The Finnish Tobacco Act aims to eliminate the use of tobacco products by the end of the year 2040. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health action plan on tobacco – the Roadmap towards a Smoke-Free Finland – shows the ways in which this can be achieved.

In the plan there are 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. 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, traveller 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.

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 ambitious objectives of the Tobacco Act can 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”, says Minister of Health and Social Services Susanna Huovinen.

Finnish smoking has decreased
In Finland, smoking has decreased for many years. 16 per cent of Finnish 15-64-year-olds smoked daily in 2013. According to the Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey 13 per cent of Finnish 14-18-year-olds used tobacco products daily in 2013 (26%, 2001).

Smoking is the single largest cause of health inequality between socio-economic groups in the Finnish population, and together with alcohol explains about half of the health inequalities.

Source: Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

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