Finland’s Goal: Tobacco Free by 2040

The government is working hard to have less than 2% of adults consuming tobacco in any form.

January 27, 2017

HELSINKI, Finland – Finland officials have declared war on tobacco—and want to rid their country of all forms by 2040, CNN reports. The government’s goal of having less than 2% of adults using any form of tobacco shows its commitment to being tobacco-free.

Smoking rates in Finland, as in the rest of the industrialized countries, have been dropping for the past few decades because of smoking bans and prohibitions on tobacco advertisements and retail displays. Four years ago, 16% of Finns between the ages of 15 and 64 smoked daily.

“The Finnish approach is revolutionary,” said Kaari Paaso, who leads the harm prevention unit at Finland’s Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. “We want to get rid of all tobacco products.”

To achieve its goal, the government has taken a cautionary approach through a comprehensive set of policies that won’t promote milder tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes or snus, as alternatives. “We don't want to fall into the trap of other policies that have less harmful products,” said Paaso. “We want to phase out all products.”

To start, Finland jacked up the cost for vendors to sell tobacco by adding an annual surveillance fee for officers who check on compliance. “There's quite a high fee to license it and to sell it,” he said. In addition, Finns can no longer smoke in private vehicles when anyone under the age of 15 is in the car.