A working group appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health proposes measures to end the use of tobacco and nicotine products in Finland by 2030.
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The group submitted its report to State Secretary Eila Mäkipää on Tuesday, 31 January 2023.
The aim of the current Tobacco Act is to end the use of tobacco and nicotine products. In practice, the target means that less than five per cent of the adult population would use tobacco and nicotine products on a daily basis in 2030.
In recent decades, the attitudes in Finland towards smoking have changed considerably and the number of cardiovascular diseases and cancers caused by smoking has decreased. Smoking is, however, still Finland’s single biggest preventable health risk.
One of the most effective ways of both reducing smoking and narrowing health gaps between social groups is to influence the price of tobacco products through tobacco taxation. In Finland, the tax on tobacco products has been raised every six months since 2016.
The working group proposes that the six-monthly increases be continued also in the coming government terms.
The Ministry of Finance has estimated that as a result of the increases, cigarette prices will increase by around 11% between 2022 and 2023. In 2021, the average price of cigarettes in Finland was the third highest in the EU. In 2022, a pack of cigarettes cost on average nearly ten euros.
The working group proposes that the age limit for purchasing tobacco products, nicotine containing liquids and tobacco substitutes containing nicotine be raised from 18 to 20 years. The same age limit would apply to imports and possession.
Studies show that smoking is often started or experimented by the age of 20, so postponing experiments could reduce the number of smokers.
The working group proposes that an automatic smoking ban be included in new rental agreements in residential apartments, including the balcony and outdoor spaces.
It also proposes that in a housing company a decision could be taken by majority vote to ban smoking in residential apartments and balconies and similar outdoor spaces used by residents, if smoke can spread from them to other residents' premises.
The working group proposes that the smoking areas of food and beverage service businesses be removed from use and that smoking on terraces be prohibited. In addition, smoking ban is proposed to include outdoor swimming pool areas, amusement parks, sports fields and arenas.
At outdoor events, smoking would only be allowed in a separate area from which the smoke does not spread to the areas intended for following the event.
The working group also proposed legislative amendments to respond to new products to be placed on the market, in particular those appealing to children and young people, and to their marketing and sale.
The term of office of the working group on improving the tobacco and nicotine policy was from 7 February 2022 to 31 January 2023. The group hopes that the next government will start promoting the measures of the report right at the beginning of its term.
A previous working group submitted a similar reportLink to an external website on the matter on 31 May 2018. ■
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