As Norway legalizes vaping, possible snus ban gains traction

Norway public health officials released a new report citing a dramatic decline in smoking rates in recent years, but snus use is apparently on a massive uptick.  Government officials in one of Trump’s favorite nations have been aggressively trying to wipe out smoking nationwide for years.  New statistics indicate that they may be winning the battle, but the war is not yet over. 

The good news is that smoking rates among young women ages 16 to 24 is almost nonexistent.  Only 1% of this demographic currently smoke, down from 30% in 2001.  Smoking rates among young men plummeted from 29% to only 3% respectively.

Related Article: Smoking rates plummet to 10-year low, thanks partly to vaping, says UK

The tradeoff is a significant rise in snus use. Even among young women, snus use has grown from 5% to 14%.  In nearby Sweden, approximately 20% of the population are daily snus users while then nation’s smoking rates have dropped to under 5% overall.

The snus issue is such a major concern among health officials that the European Court of Justice is entertaining arguments to ban snus products completely.  One court filing is being spearheaded by a consumer advocacy group named the New Nicotine Alliance.  A spokesperson for the organization issued the following statement

“Any reasonable person looking at the spectacular graph for smoking among young Norwegians will be struck by how the fall accelerated after snus became available in 2002. This is no fluke. The end of smoking is in sight in Norway and Sweden as people choose far safer snus instead. So reasonable people will ask why the UK government decided to urge the European Court of Justice to maintain the snus ban in the rest of the EU.”

Pro-vaping enthusiast Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, Greece also seems to be in support of a European snus ban.  In the same press release, Farsalinos issues the following comment.

"There is absolutely no doubt that access to snus in Sweden and Norway has played a crucial role in the rapid reduction of their smoking rates.”

Vaping in Norway

Norway has somewhat loosened its grip on anti-vaping regulations. In December of 2016, Norway’s Parliament passed the Tobacco Act which was primarily designed to comply with the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) regulations of the European Union (EU).  Bent Høie, the country’s Minister of Health and Human Services, called the new legislation “an important milestone in the work for a tobacco-free generation”. The new laws take effect this spring. 

Related Article:  Clive Bates: TPD Article 20 is ‘defacto protection’ for Big Tobacco

At approximately the same time, Høie lifted the prior nationwide ban on electronic cigarettes.  In a public statement, he claims that vaping devices “have less damage potential than tobacco smoke.”  However, e-cigs will remain banned in places where smoking is prohibited.  Høie also falls short of endorsing vaping entirely, citing “a very limited knowledge” and scientific evidence on the health benefits of vaping.

This statement is considered somewhat odd in some European vaping circles, particularly since the UK’s Public Health England has publicly stated since 2015 that e-cigs are 95% less harmful than smoking.  But England is no longer a member of the EU, thanks to last year’s Brexit vote.  So perhaps this research carries less wait with political officials across the rest of Europe. 

Related Article:  UK blasts Surgeon General; Calls vaping ‘a great public health opportunity’


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