Celebrating One Year of Smoke Free Sweden: Embracing Alternatives and Advocating for Change

As Smoke Free Sweden marks its one year anniversary, it’s a moment to recognise the remarkable achievements that have propelled the nation towards smoke free status. 

With Sweden boasting one of the lowest smoking rates in the world at just 5.6%, meaning that it is on the precipice of becoming smoke free, the movement’s success underscores the effectiveness of innovative approaches and the importance of embracing less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes, such as e-cigarettes, snus and nicotine pouches. 

So let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at what a momentous last 12 months we’ve had: 

March 2023

14 March: Smoke Free Sweden starts telling the amazing Swedish story – with an event in Stockholm and a major scientific publication – “
The Swedish Experience: A roadmap for a smoke-free society”

Watch the launch event here.

April 2023 

Experts urge the European Commission to consider Sweden’s successful tobacco control measures in its next revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). Sweden’s strategy, which includes harm reduction approaches and promoting smoke-free alternatives, has led to significantly lower smoking rates and could save millions of lives across the EU.

May 2023

International public health experts convene for a seminar in Johannesburg, urging South African lawmakers to adopt Sweden’s successful tobacco control approach, which prioritises harm reduction strategies. They warn that South Africa’s pending tobacco control bill could hinder progress by treating reduced harm products the same as cigarettes, potentially costing lives.

The Swedish experience is also presented at the South American Seminar on Tobacco Harm Reduction in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

On World No Tobacco Day, the 31st of May, leading global health experts deliver the landmark publication “The Swedish Experience: A roadmap for a Smoke Free Society” to key Members of the European Parliament.

The Associated Press releases a video and syndicates a story about Smoke Free Sweden’s success, which is picked up by media worldwide and is seen by in excess of one billion people. 

June 2023

The Swedish story is acknowledged by leading media outlets, including Euronews and O Globo.

Smoke Free Sweden launches a major new report, showing that three million more Europeans would be alive today if other countries had implemented Sweden’s ‘smoke free’ and tobacco harm reduction strategy. The scientific publication, called Saving Lives Like Sweden is launched at an event in Warsaw with leading health experts ahead of the Global Forum on Nicotine. 

September 2023

Sweden doubles down on its commitment to tobacco harm reduction and proposes to reduce the tax on snus, a less harmful alternative to smoking, in order to differentiate the risks between snus and conventional cigarettes. 

Meanwhile, leading French newspaper Les Echos spotlights Smoke Free Sweden.

Kazakhstan announces its plan to ban vapes, Smoke Free Sweden criticises the move, calling it a dangerous step backward that will deprive smokers of a proven, less harmful alternative to cigarettes. They urge Kazakhstan to follow the successful example of Sweden, which has dramatically reduced smoking rates by embracing harm reduction strategies like vaping. 

In a news report broadcast on 27 September, CNN Brasil examines the impact e-cigarettes have had in bringing down smoking levels in various countries. The piece highlights the success of Sweden, which is on the cusp of becoming smoke free. The report also features Dr Delon Human, the leader of Smoke Free Sweden, who underscores the importance of accurate communication for consumers.

October 2023

Smoke Free Sweden launches a new study, called Lives Saved: Integrating Harm Reduction into tobacco control, at an event in London that highlights the potential for saving millions of lives in four countries (Kazakhstan, Pakistan, South Africa, and Bangladesh) by adopting Sweden’s successful tobacco harm reduction (THR) strategies.

November 2023

The Smoke Free Sweden movement sets out policy recommendations for building a smoke-free society ahead of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s Tenth Conference of Parties (FCTC COP10).  “Learnings from Smoke-Free Sweden. A Global Consultation”, offers seven distinct and straightforward recommendations for reducing smoking rates to become smoke-free, as Sweden is on the brink of doing. 

While COP 10 in Panama is delayed, Smoke Free Sweden experts urge the participants and the WHO to use the respite to consider the success of Sweden in tackling deaths and disease from smoking. 

Throughout the week, on the Smoke Free Sweden Twitter account, key recommendations for policymakers are presented. 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.

December 2023

Health Advocates call on countries to make a smoke free New Year’s resolution for 2024. 

Smoke Free Sweden launches a new digital campaign urging governments and politicians around the world to make a New Year’s resolution and help their country quit smoking in 2024. 

January 2024

World Health Organisation data echoes Smoke Free Sweden’s findings – The WHO global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2002-2030 shows Sweden will have by far the lowest smoking rates in Europe by 2030 – along with the United Kingdom and Iceland, which also have progressive policies on modern nicotine products. Other nations on the continent will have smoking rates which are up to FOUR TIMES higher than that of Sweden.

COP10 finally takes place in Panama with the world watching, Smoke Free Sweden urges delegates to follow the Swedish example and push for tobacco harm reduction recommendations. 

February 2024

Snus tax reduction is adopted in Sweden, a trailblazing example of progress in the battle to reduce global cigarette consumption.

Looking forward to the future 

This is just the beginning and we hope to bring you better news in the coming months, about other countries adopting the Swedish approach, policymakers who finally understand the importance of our message and ultimately millions of people whose lives are better or saved because of a public health policy that actually works.