COP10: What if lives were saved?

This week, COP10 should have taken place. We’re taking the opportunity to look at what COP10 could have achieved if it embraced tobacco harm reduction.

Sweden’s journey towards becoming the first European country to be officially ‘smoke-free’, with a smoking rate expected to dip below 5% in 2023, should be a wake up call for policymakers around the world. This achievement, a full 17 years ahead of the 2040 EU target, is a testament to the effectiveness of combining traditional tobacco control measures with harm reduction strategies. Over the last 15 years, Sweden has slashed its smoking rates from 15% in 2008 to 5.6% today.

At the core of Sweden’s success is the wide availability and acceptance of alternative nicotine products like snus, oral nicotine pouches, and e-cigarettes. These products have not only made smoking less attractive but have also proven to be safer alternatives, leading to substantial reductions in smoking prevalence and related diseases. Sweden has a 38% lower level of total cancer deaths compared to the rest of Europe.

Through “COP10: What if lives were saved?” we want to highlight the potential global impact of the Swedish model. By adopting similar strategies, over 3.5 million early deaths could be prevented in Europe alone over the next decade. This figure represents just a fraction of the potential lives that could be saved globally if more countries followed Sweden’s lead.

Throughout this week, we will present key recommendations for policymakers – recommendations that should inform COP10 when it eventually takes place. These include embracing harm reduction strategies, implementing risk-appropriate nicotine regulation, and ensuring the accessibility, affordability, and acceptability of smoke-free products. Accurate risk communication is crucial, as misinformation is a significant barrier to reducing smoking prevalence.

As we look towards COP10, we see this as a critical moment for global tobacco control. The postponement of COP10 presents an opportunity to rethink and realign global strategies.

Keep an eye on our Twitter account (@SmokeFreeSweden) for more insights and discussions throughout the week.

This week is all about unpacking what COP10 could do right to save lives.

Join us in exploring how the world can emulate the Swedish model to create a healthier, smoke-free future.