Embargo 00.01 UTC/GMT Tuesday 6 February 2018
- Only 1% of young Norwegian women now smoke - down from 30% in 2001
- Only 3% of young Norwegian men now smoke - down from 29% in 2001
- Other Scandinavian countries are also stopping smoking - Sweden’s average rate now 5%
- Both Norway and Sweden have widespread use of the smoking substitute snus
Government figures show that smoking has almost disappeared among young Norwegian women. In 2001 the smoking rate among females aged 16 to 24 was 30%. By 2017 that had collapsed to just 1%. By contrast the smoking rate for young women in the UK is 16%. Over the same period smoking among young Norwegian men has fallen from 29% to 3%. (See attachments posted below.)
The collapse in smoking in Norway does not appear to be the result of vaping as nicotine containing e-cigarettes are only now being legalised. However there has been a sharp increase in the use of the oral tobacco product snus. During 2008-14 its use among young women grew from 5% to 14%. In neighbouring Sweden, where snus is also legal, 20% of the whole population use it and the adult smoking rate has fallen to 5%.
Last month the European Court of Justice held a hearing on whether the ban on snus in the rest of the EU should be lifted. The legal action is supported by the consumer charity the New Nicotine Alliance.
Its trustee Professor Gerry Stimson said: “Any reasonable person looking at the spectacular graph for smoking among young Norwegians will be struck by how the fall accelerated after snus became available in 2002. This is no fluke. The end of smoking is in sight in Norway and Sweden as people choose far safer snus instead. So reasonable people will ask why the UK government decided to urge the European Court of Justice to maintain the snus ban in the rest of the EU.”
His comments were echoed by the smoking substitutes expert Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos: "There is absolutely no doubt that access to snus in Sweden and Norway has played a crucial role in the rapid reduction of their smoking rates.”
Many international bodies - including the World Health Organisation - view snus as being far safer than smoking (see sources below).
- Smoking rate among young women in Norway falls from 30% to 1% in sixteen years: Norwegian Smoking Data (select data using tick icons and then download to Excel). https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/05307/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6
- Smoking rate among young women in UK is 16%. UK Smoking Data (download spreadsheet and click link to Table 1). https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/drugusealcoholandsmoking/datasets/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain
- Nicotine containing e-cigarettes have been illegal in Norway - although the government has now decided to legalise e-cigarettes. https://www.fhi.no/en/op/hin/risk--protective-factors/royking-og-snusbruk-i-noreg/#ecigarettes-
- Snus rate among young women in Norway grew from 5% to 14% in six years. For Norwegian snus data select data using tick icons and then download to Excel. https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/07692/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6
- Snus is legal in Sweden and 20% of people are daily users of oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. See footnote on page 73 of EU Eurobarometer 2017. http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146
- Daily smoking fell in Sweden from 8% to 5% over the last three years. The EU average is 24%. See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017. http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146
- World Health Organisation: snus is “considerably less hazardous” than smoking. EU Commission: the health advantages over smoking are "undeniable" . US Food and Drug Administration: authorised snus after exhaustive testing. The Lancet’s 2017 Global Burden of Disease survey found no evidence of any snus related mortality. http://www.who.int/tobacco/global_interaction/tobreg/publications/9789241209519.pdf http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_013.pdf http://www.cspdailynews.com/category-news/tobacco/articles/fda-ruling-win-swedish-match http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)32366-8.pdf
- Two academic studies have shown that if snus were available in the rest of Europe it could save between 200,000 and 355,000 lives - every year. Brad Rodu, 2004 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15074568 Snus Commission report, 2017 http://snuskommissionen.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Snuskommissionen_rapport3_eng_PRINT.pdf - see table on page 19 of the Snus Commission Report for annual mortality gap in your country