BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Finland, one of the happiest countries in the world, is once again making its way to the top of my personal list of ‘countries I need to visit.’ This is because if I plan to visit Finland in 2040 I won’t have to worry about the nuisance of second-hand smoke anywhere. Finland is setting its sights on setting a world standard for anti-smoking campaigns, with the goal of making the country almost completely tobacco-free in the next two decades.
For the country to be successful, they want less than two per cent of adults to consume tobacco in any form by 2040. This includes cigarettes, pipes, e-cigarettes or snuff.
According to CNN, smoking rates in Finland have been declining in recent decades due to bans on smoking advertisements and the implementation of smoke-free public spaces. In 2013, 16 per cent of 15 to 64-year-olds in Finland smoked daily. In other words, to reach their goal they need to reduce smoking rates by 14 per cent in 23 years.
Finland is hoping a revolutionary approach to ending tobacco consumption is the answer. Rather than targeting specific areas at a time, like just focusing on advertisement, the Finnish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs plans to be precautionary in every aspect. The Ministry plans to use a “comprehensive set of policies.”
“The Finnish approach is revolutionary. We want to get rid of all tobacco products,” said Kaari Paaso, head of the unit on harm prevention at Finland’s Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to CNN. “We don’t want to fall into the trap of other policies that have less harmful products. We want to phase out all products.”
Finland’s game plan has three tobacco-killing tactics. The first being raising the cost of selling tobacco, which has proved to be the most effective method of lowering tobacco use worldwide. Finland has topped just raising the cost, by implementing an increased cost to sell tobacco, along with a high fee for a license to sell tobacco. A business that wants to sell tobacco has to apply and pay for a license, and then must pay an annual fee to cover the cost of surveillance officers in each municipality who check to ensure vendors are following rules.
The second part of the plan is smoke-free private areas. While smoke-free public areas have been introduced for a while, now housing companies and residents can apply for a smoke-ban if their neighbours’ tobacco smoke is spreading and causing a disturbance. Also, Finnish drivers are not allowed to smoke in private cars if anyone in the car is younger than 15.
The last part of the plan is turning minors off of the idea of smoking. This includes adding restrictions on products that imitate tobacco or cigarettes, like a chocolate shaped like a pipe. Most importantly, there are big restrictions on e-cigarettes, since e-cigarettes have the ability to attract minors with flavours like cotton candy or Fruit Loops. These cigarettes have the same restrictions as regular cigarettes, and they are no longer allowed to have any flavour.
Reducing tobacco use is a fight in each country, but hopefully Finland’s revolutionary plan will be both effective and an inspiration to other countries.