WHO fails to recognise lifesaving qualities of smoke-free nicotine alternatives – Smoke Free Sweden

31 May 2024, Stockholm, Sweden –  Leading global health experts have urged the WHO to use World No Tobacco Day to recognise the life saving potential of smoke-free nicotine alternatives.  

The WHO has repeatedly failed to highlight the transformative and lifesaving impact that alternative products, such as e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches, have had on adults looking to quit smoking.

Sweden’s approach to tobacco harm reduction has shown that it is possible to stop young people from starting to smoke while also helping adults find a safer path away from cigarettes. According to Sweden’s public health agency, smoking is lowest among those aged 16-29 at a smoking incidence of 3.8%. This is even lower than the Swedish average of 5.6%, which is the lowest in all of Europe.

In Sweden, the availability of alternative nicotine products has resulted in 44% fewer tobacco-related deaths than the European average, a lung cancer rate that is 41% lower, and 38% fewer deaths attributable to any cancer. 

Commenting on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, Dr Delon Human, leader of Smoke Free Sweden said:

It is disheartening to see the WHO continue to ignore the success of Sweden. Sweden’s experience shows that harm reduction can be a powerful tool in achieving public health goals and reducing the prevalence of smoking-related diseases.

“The WHO’s neglect of adult smokers seeking safer paths is like that of a building with no fire escapes: leaving occupants with no route to flee the dangers of smoking. As the foremost international health body, it has a responsibility to help save the almost 8 million adult lives lost to smoking each year.”


Notes to editors


Smoke Free Sweden

Jessica Perkins 




About Smoke Free Sweden

Smoke Free Sweden is a movement that encourages other countries to follow the Swedish experience when it comes to Tobacco Harm Reduction. Sweden is about to become the first ‘smoke free’ European country, with a smoking rate of below 5 percent. This remarkable achievement 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.