Finland is moving towards risk reduction to reduce harmful tobacco-consumption

20th Jun 2022

The National Coalition Party of Finland (Finnish: Kansallinen Kokoomus, Swedish: Samlingspartiet), the liberal-conservative party in Finland, recently decided at its party congress to work towards making the sale of snus legal in Finland.

Although experience from Sweden and Norway shows that alternative nicotine products, such as snus and nicotine pouches, are effective tools to reduce the smoking prevalence in society, there is still a ban on the sale of snus in the EU. Sweden has an exception to this ban, and the figures speak for themselves. In Sweden, around 6% of the population smokes daily, while the corresponding figure is 10.2% in Finland.

Finland has competed with the rest of Europe for the strictest tobacco and nicotine regulations

Attractive and less harmful nicotine products, such as nicotine pouches and snus, are crucial to getting more smokers to quit. For decades Finland has competed with the rest of Europe for the strictest tobacco and nicotine legislation. But now, there seems to be more support than ever for adopting a harm reduction strategy for tobacco and nicotine products.

The Coalition Party’s willingness to allow snus sale also means that the party questions the EU’s snus ban on political grounds. Though the Party Board argued that it would have been more realistic to push for allowing chewing tobacco, which would have made it legal to sell portioned snus – the Party Congress chose to go its own way. This means that Finland may politically challenge the EU snus ban in the future. It should be noted that the Coalition party is one of Finland’s largest parties and has been in government. The current President Niinist√∂ belongs to the Coalition Party.

Finland can change its national legislation to make alternative nicotine products more available

However, Finnish politicians could already make safer nicotine products more accessible to smokers. Finland has unnecessarily strict rules for nicotine pouches, creating high thresholds for smokers to choose nicotine pouches over cigarettes. A medical certificate is required to buy nicotine pouches with a nicotine content higher than 4 mg per pouch, making the product less accessible to adult consumers who want to quit smoking with the help of less harmful nicotine products. This legislation is national and Finnish politicians can change it whenever they wish.

Nevertheless, it is welcome that a major political party in Finland wants to adopt a risk reduction strategy for tobacco and nicotine. With the help of alternative nicotine products, more people can create a healthier life for themselves and their loved ones.

Finland is not the only country beginning to see and move towards risk reduction as a strategy to combat tobacco-related harm from smoking. The UK government commissioned an independent review of health disparities in February. When presented, one of the conclusions was that “swap to stop” tools should be encouraged by the government.

As always, Pouch Patrol follows the development.