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Sweden Likely To Becoming First Smoke-free Country

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Sweden has the lowest smoking rate in the European Union, and is likely to be declared a “smoke-free” country soon, a term used for a country that has less than 5 per cent of its population smoking.

Decades of anti-smoking campaigns and laws, as well as the spread of “snus,” a smokeless tobacco product banned in the rest of the EU but sold in Sweden as an alternative to cigarettes, are responsible for this, according to analysts.

Whatever the reason, only 5.6 per cent of Swedes over the age of 15 use tobacco, which is the lowest in the EU and far below the Union average of 18.5 per cent, according to statistics agency Eurostat.

Health-conscious Swedes, including the younger generation, seem to have a good understanding of the risks of smoking. Twenty years ago, almost 20 per cent of the population were smokers—a low rate in the world at the time. Since then, measures to discourage smokers have reduced smoking rates across Europe, including bans on smoking in restaurants.

The Swedish case resulted in a number of health benefits, as well as a relatively low rate of lung cancer.

“We started early to restrict smoking in public places, first in school playgrounds and after-school centers, and later in restaurants, outdoor cafes and public places such as bus stations,” said Ulrika Arehed, secretary general of the Swedish Cancer Society, and added:

“At the same time, taxes on cigarettes and strict restrictions on the marketing of those products played an important role.”

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Smoking is prohibited in Sweden at bus stops and train platforms, in all public buildings and institutions, and even in front of the entrance to hospitals and other public buildings. As in most of Europe, smoking is not allowed in bars and restaurants, but as of 2019, the smoking ban in Sweden also applies to outdoor seating areas.

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