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Sweden may become the first smoke-free country in Europe


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Sweden is close to becoming the first smoke-free country in Europe thanks to snus, anti-smoking laws and campaigns.

Sweden is on track to become the first smoke-free country in Europe, according to AP. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a country as smoke-free if less than five percent of the population smokes daily. Last year, the figure was 5.6 percent in Sweden, according to the Public Health Agency.

The main explanations are the widespread use of snus, a type of moist tobacco (which is placed under the upper lip and gum. It is popular in Sweden and Norway, where it is considered a less harmful alternative to smoking), and decades of legislation and campaigns against smoking, according to several experts. Twenty years ago, around 20 percent of Swedes were daily smokers. Since then, measures such as the smoking ban in restaurants in 2005, which was expanded in 2019 to also include outdoor seating, have helped to push down the number. This has led to several health benefits, including a relatively low incidence of lung cancer.

However, Sweden is not there yet, according to Cancer Foundation’s Secretary General Ulrika Årehed Kågström. She says that more efforts are needed to reduce smoking among young people and people with low education and income.

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