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Spain Pointed to the Swedish Example

Sweden’s snus tax is a game changer in tobacco harm reduction policies and something that Spain ought to be replicating, according to the Smoke Free Sweden initiative

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Sweden’s snus tax is a game changer in tobacco harm reduction policies and something that Spain ought to be replicating, according to the Smoke Free Sweden initiative. The international harm reduction experts have commended the Swedish government for keeping to their promise and announcing a date for reducing tax on alternative nicotine products and, in a new public consultation submission, called on the Spanish government to emulate Sweden's successful tobacco control strategies. 

Last week, the Swedish government confirmed that it would follow through with its previously announced plan to decrease the excise tax on snus by 20%, while increasing taxes on traditional cigarettes by 9%.

According to the Swedish government’s official announcement, the move is in recognition of the fact snus poses only a fraction of the risk of cigarettes.

Sweden is on the cusp of becoming smoke free, with smoking rates only just above 5%. 

This is largely down to the availability of less harmful alternative products, such as nicotine pouches and snus, and the fact public health authorities have expressed support for reducing smoking using alternatives. Last year, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson endorsed this strategy, saying “anything we can do to reduce and avoid smoking is good”.

Compared with the rest of the EU, Sweden has 44% fewer tobacco-related deaths, a lung cancer rate that is 41% lower, and 38% fewer deaths attributable to any cancer.

Dr Delon Human, leader of the Smoke Free Sweden initiative and former Health Advisor to three WHO Directors-General, said: “We are delighted to see the Swedish government implementing a sensible and pragmatic approach to tobacco harm reduction.

“Sweden is on the verge of becoming officially smoke-free because it has allowed safer alternatives, such as snus, modern nicotine pouches and e-cigarettes, to be accessible, acceptable and affordable to smokers.

“This move to reduce the tax on snus is yet another example of how Sweden is leading the way when it comes to combating the deadly toll of cigarettes.”

Smoke Free Sweden have followed this by pointing the Spanish government to its report titled “The Swedish Experience: A Roadmap to a Smoke Free Society”, which includes several policy recommendations aimed at guiding Spanish tobacco legislation.

Smoke Free Sweden's submission strongly encourages the Spanish government to consider Sweden's strategies, as the nation is nearing a historic achievement of becoming smoke free, with less than 5% of the adult population currently smoking. This success is attributed largely to the availability of alternatives like e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches. In contrast, Spain reports a smoking rate of 17%. Sweden's progress has been significantly driven by harm reduction strategies and the promotion of smoke free alternatives.

Dr Delon Human commented: "Sweden’s innovative approach to tobacco control presents a practical and effective model for Spain to adopt in its upcoming legislative revisions. Implementing the Swedish strategies could not only save numerous Spanish lives but also serve as a model for global public health efforts aimed at reducing smoking rates."

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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