Diya Sharma

Snus: The Swedish Solution to Smoking? Debating the Benefits and Risks

cigarette, smoking, snus, swedish, tobacco

Sweden is close to declaring itself “smoke-free.” Anti-smoking campaigns and legislation, as well as the availability of snus, contribute to Sweden’s low smoking rates. Only 6.4% of Swedes over 15 were daily smokers in 2019, the lowest in the EU. Smoking in Sweden has decreased, with smoking rates reaching 5.6% last year. Smoking is prohibited in both indoor and outdoor areas of bars and restaurants in Sweden. However, Despite having the lowest smoking rate in the European Union, Sweden has almost reached the 5% milestone of smokers within its population.

France saw a plateau in smoking rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. About one-third of people aged 18 to 75 admitted to smoking in 2021. Sweden has implemented various measures to discourage smoking. The results include a relatively low rate of lung cancer. Increased smoking restrictions in public spaces, rising taxes on cigarettes, and marketing curbs have helped reduce smoking rates in Sweden. Smoking is increasingly rare in Sweden, with bans even at bus stops, train platforms, and hospital entrances.

Snus, a smokeless tobacco product, is popular in Sweden and is considered a less harmful alternative to smoking. However, it is not free from its downsides. Swedish health authorities are reluctant to advise smokers to switch to snus due to its addictive nature. Snus has been linked to health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and premature births during pregnancy. This leads us to question whether using the product is worth it. Is it advisable to use one addiction to get rid of another? Snus makers believe their products help reduce cigarette smoking, but health officials caution against the risks of using snus.

Due to its cultural significance, Sweden has exempted snus from the EU’s ban on smokeless tobacco. The tobacco industry should develop less harmful alternatives to smoking, such as snus and e-cigarettes, according to Swedish Match. It is impossible for people who regularly smoke to quit it all at once. For this reason, such non-toxic alternatives are necessary. They will aid smokers in the path of quitting. Turkmenistan is ahead of Sweden in phasing out smoking, primarily due to low smoking rates among women. However, Sweden’s declining smoking rate is attributed to tobacco control measures, information campaigns, and cessation support. Including snus, Sweden’s tobacco use reaches around 20% of the adult population, like the global average. The aim is to bring this percentage down and increase the number of Non-smokers. 

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The World Health Organization (WHO) rejects approaches that allow the consumption of less harmful tobacco products. It highlights the dangers of tobacco products and why they need to be driven out. Sweden’s anti-smoking policies have stigmatized smoking and pushed smokers away from public spaces.  According to a researcher at Stockholm University, negative reactions and signals from society have contributed to smokers avoiding public spaces. As stated before, associating stigma with a certain action can lead to driving it out completely. The WHO marked “World No Tobacco Day” to raise awareness about tobacco use and its harmful effects. Some smokers in Sweden acknowledge the addiction and aim to quit in the future.

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