Sweden must defend its successful harm reduction approach

May 4, 2023, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN — Sweden is the most successful country worldwide in reducing smoking rates, but the Swedish approach is under pressure from the EU and the WHO. To urge the Swedish government to defend its consumer-friendly approach towards snus, vaping, and nicotine pouches, consumers held a protest in front of the Swedish parliament.

World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA), an international vaping consumer organisation, together with Swedish consumers, vape shop owners and local harm reduction groups such as “EU for Snus” and the “New Nicotine Alliance Sweden” deflated a 5-metre tall cigarette in front of Riksdag in Stockholm as a part of the wider #BeatSmokingLikeTheSwedes campaign. The demonstration highlights Sweden’s success with sensible harm reduction policies towards alternative tobacco products such as snus, nicotine pouches, and vaping. Furthermore, protesters will encourage the Swedish government to finally defend its successful policies against EU and WHO attacks. Both institutions want to further restrict vaping and nicotine pouches and keep demonising snus consumption, ignoring the Swedish anti-smoking miracle and preferences for their consumption of nicotine.

Sweden is about to become the first country in the world to achieve a daily smoking rate below 5%, a benchmark to qualify it as a smoke-free country, 17 years ahead of the EU’s target.

Michael Landl, director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, said:

The Swedish example of risk-based policies has proven to be effective: in the last decade, the smoking rate in Sweden has declined by 55%, and this year Sweden is about to become the first country in the world to become smoke-free. At the same time, the EU and the WHO keep ignoring Sweden and push for the opposite approach. Flavour bans, generational smoking bans, higher taxes and so on are still on the table – the exact opposite of what Sweden is doing. It is time for the Swedish government to speak up and defend the Swedish harm reduction approach internationally. Otherwise, the success of the past is in great danger, and Swedish consumers will suffer from terrible international legislation.

Bengt Wiberg, Founder of EUforsnus and inventor, added:

In Sweden, we consume about the same rate of nicotine as the European Union average, but thanks to freedom for adults to choose safer alternatives to harmful smoking, such as snus, nicotine pouches, vapes and heat sticks, we have the by far lowest rates of lung cancer, oral cancer, cardiovascular diseases and also other forms of cancer in Europe. In short, Swedes have more or less quit smoking, lowering the disease burden to unprecedented levels. Internationally this unbeatable performance is known as the Swedish Experience. All the EU and WHO have to do is ‘copy and paste’ our sensible Swedish regulations for these safer alternatives to smoking.

Earlier this year, the World Vapers’ Alliance released a Beat Smoking Like The Swedes handbook containing key facts about the Swedish smoke-free miracle. WVA already presented its plans in Berlin to the German government and Members of the European Parliament in Brussels. On May 31, World No Tobacco Day, the group will again raise the issue in Brussels with politicians.

While most countries see zero progress in reducing smoking rates, most governments still exhibit a hostile approach to alternative tobacco products. Products such as vaping, snus, and nicotine pouches are the most effective tools that help smokers quit, and Sweden is a real-life example. Sweden has shown that a smoke-free future is possible. With a smart harm reduction approach, we can reach a smoke-free Europe way sooner than the target.” added Landl.


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