Experts recommend seizing the COP 10 delay as a catalyst for tobacco control innovation
Stockholm, 21 November – The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control must use the delays to its Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10) to consider smoke-free success stories like that of Sweden, leading experts have said.
Since the delay to COP10 was announced last week, Dr. Delon Human, leader of the Smoke Free Sweden movement, has emphasised the urgency of the moment: “This is a critical time for the WHO to consider the compelling evidence and to do their own research on countries such as Sweden that have successfully implemented harm reduction strategies.“
Sweden, with its smoking prevalence nearing the ‘smoke-free’ threshold of 5%, serves as a model for effective tobacco control.
“The Swedish approach has saved thousands of lives annually. If other countries adopted similar strategies, the potential for saving millions of lives is immense. It’s about providing safer options, not just imposing bans,” commented Anders Milton, a renowned Swedish public health expert.
Similarly, in the UK, where the NHS endorses vaping for smokers unable to quit, there has been a consistent decline in smoking rates. In 2021, the proportion of current smokers in the UK was 13.3%, equating to 6.6 million people, showing a significant decrease of 6.9 percentage points compared with 2011.
“The rescheduling of COP10 should prompt a focused analysis of the tobacco control strategies implemented in countries like Sweden and the UK, or even Japan which is seeing lower smoking rates because of heated tobacco products use. Examining their substantial reductions in smoking rates through harm reduction methods will provide practical insights.” added Dr. Human.
Building on the need for detailed analysis, Dr. Human proposed an innovative approach to enhance global understanding of effective tobacco control. “Hosting a future FCTC conference in Sweden would be a strategic move, offering global health leaders direct exposure to the successful implementation of Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) policies, alongside traditional tobacco control.“
This proposal aims to showcase Sweden’s pioneering approach to tobacco control, where a combination of accessible reduced-risk products and informed public education has led to one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe. A conference in Sweden would provide a tangible, real-life context for discussions, allowing policymakers to observe and learn from a country that has effectively balanced regulatory frameworks with public health objectives.
Notes to editors:
The Tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was supposed to take place from 20 to 25 November 2023, in Panama City, Panama. It is currently postponed and no location or dates are known for the moment.
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 www.smokefreesweden.org.