Sunak must consider the Swedish approach to bringing down UK smoking rates

3 October 2023, Stockholm, Sweden – The UK must follow Sweden’s lead and continue to support alternatives to cigarettes to tackle smoking rates, leading public health advocates have said.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak is said to be considering a raft of new proposals aimed at stamping out smoking for good, including gradually increasing the legal smoking age.

Yet health experts have warned that a focus on youth smoking could detract from the only measure proven to rapidly reduce smoking rates: smokeless alternative products.

UK authorities have been quick to embrace vapes, and the number of vapers is estimated at over 3 million – of whom 93% are ex- or current smokers. Meanwhile rates of smoking are already at historic lows, particularly among young people. In 2018, 16% of 11-15 year olds had smoked at least once; the lowest proportion since the survey began in 1982, when 53% had tried smoking.

Commenting on the proposed changes, leader of the Smoke Free Sweden movement Dr Delon Human said:

“The UK has been a pioneer in its embrace of vaping, with a historic fall of 25% in smoking prevalence between 2012 and 2020 primarily driven by the uptake of vapes.

“Other smokeless alternatives, such as nicotine pouches, have been incredibly popular in Sweden, which is on the brink of becoming smoke free this year.

“To achieve their policy goal of a smoke free England by 2030, politicians in the UK must continue prioritising access to affordable, acceptable smokeless alternative products. 

“Cigarette use among young people is already at historic lows: a focus on increasing the legal minimum age of purchase for cigarettes would not solve the issue at hand.”


About Smoke Free Sweden


Smoke Free Sweden is a campaign which encourages other countries to follow the Swedish model when it comes to Tobacco Harm Reduction. Sweden is about to become the first ‘smoke-free’ European country in 2023, with a smoking rate of below 5 percent. This is a huge achievement, and will be 17 years ahead of the 2040 EU target. This can be attributed to Sweden’s open attitude towards alternative products.


For more information on Sweden’s successful approach to becoming a smoke-free nation, please visit


Smoke Free Sweden