The THL, is an institute responsible amongst other things for national activities that promote smoking cessation. A recent report by the organization looked into the use of cigarettes (which are still the predominant type of tobacco consumed in Finland), snus and e-cigarettes, from 2000 to 2019.
The report revealed that smoking has decreased among men since the 1960s and among women since the 2000s. In 2018, the proportion of daily smokers among 20–64-year-olds was 14%, with a reduction measured among all educational groups. Thankfully, smoking during pregnancy has also decreased, with 11% of pregnant women smoking in the first trimester of pregnancy in 2018.
Despite a parallel decrease in e-cigarette use, smoking has also decreased among youth. “Differences by school type in secondary education are observable among adolescents: 3% of the general upper secondary school students smoked daily while the corresponding proportion for the youth studying at vocational institutions was 19% in 2019. The majority of the secondary education students providing data for the survey were 16–18-year-olds,” reported the THL.
In Finland, nasal tobacco and tobacco for oral use is banned, but snus can be easily imported from Sweden where sales are allowed. The large decrease in the prevalence of daily smoking over the previous decades, seems to have been achieved without increases in the use of smokeless tobacco, but an increase in snus use. “In 2018, 5% of 20–64-year-old men used snus while the proportion among 20–34-year olds was 9%.”
“A strong increase in the daily use of snus among boys was observed in the period of 2008–2015. Since 2015, the increase has only continued among students in vocational institutions. In 2019, the proportion of daily snus users among adolescents in vocational institutions was 15% (boys: 20%; girls: 7%). The corresponding proportion for general upper secondary education students was 4% (boys: 7%; girls: 1%) and for comprehensive school students it was 5% (boys: 8%; girls: 2%). During 2017–2019, a notable increase in the use of snus was observed among girls for the first time, especially in vocational institutions,” reported the institute.
The THL report indicated that e-cigarette use remains low among the Finnish population, and has been decreasing amongst adults. This dispels any myths of a “Gateway” affect, since smoking is on the decrease aswell. “Two percent of 20–64-year-old adults used e-cigarettes daily in 2018 (men: 2%; women: less than 1%). It has not increased among adults.”
“The use of e-cigarettes has decreased among adolescents. The use of e-cigarettes is more common among boys than among girls. In 2019, the daily use of e-cigarettes in comprehensive school, general upper secondary education and vocational institutes was 4%, 1% and 6% respectively.”
Tobacco and nicotine free Finland by 2030
Meanwhile, the 2016 Finnish Tobacco Act, proclaimed Finland’s goal to become tobacco and nicotine free by 2030. This would mean that no more than 5% of the population uses tobacco or nicotine products, with nicotine replacement therapy being excluded from this objective. Thanks to the widespread use of snus, neighbouring Sweden had achieved this tobacco free goal back in 2017.