Norway is considering banning tobacco sales to all adults, facing pressure from the Norwegian Medical Association, the Independent is reporting.
In essence, the proposed tobacco ban would apply only to people born after the year 2000 — people who are presently middle teenagers, at the oldest. Once the proposed law goes into place — in 2018 — only people born before 2000 would be able to purchase tobacco in Norway.
By 2035, if the Norwegian Medical Association (NMA) has its way, Norway will be completely tobacco-free.
Marit Hermansen, the president of the NMA, said that the aim of the ban is to keep young people from ever taking up the tobacco habit.
“We have long had the policy of phasing out smoking by 2035. This is a measure to achieve this goal. We want a tobacco-free generation. It shouldn’t be forbidden to smoke, but we want young people to not get started with tobacco. The [health] minister has said that the main objective is to hinder young people from beginning to smoke. That means that when the new generations come of age, they won’t be able to buy tobacco in Norway.”
Norway has cut down the percentage of tobacco smokers in the country by half since the 1980s, according to the International Business Times. As of 2010, 31 percent of Norwegian adults smoked tobacco daily or occasionally. And although the legal age to buy tobacco in Norway is 18, 10 to 12 percent of 15-year-olds in Norway smoke tobacco daily or occasionally. Those percentages are on the decrease.
By comparison, in the United States, only about 16.8 percent of adults admitted to smoking tobacco, as of 2014 — an all-time low, and nearly a 20 percent drop from 2005. Tobacco use is similarly down in teens in the United States: according to the Centers for Disease Control, 9.2 percent of high school students admitted to smoking tobacco in 2014 — also an all-time low, and a sharp decrease from 2011 (when 15.8 percent admitted to smoking tobacco).
In Hawaii, smokers will now have to wait until they’re 21 to light up: the Aloha State became the first state in the nation to raise the tobacco-smoking age, statewide, to 21. New York City also prohibits adults under 21 from buying tobacco, and Massachusetts is also considering a statewide ban, according to this Inquisitr report.
Dr. Christopher Murray, University of Washington professor of global health and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, credited government tobacco control legislation — not just in the U.S. but in other countries around the world — with reducing tobacco use rates.
“Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done. We have the legal means to support tobacco control. Where we see progress being made we need to look for ways to accelerate that progress.”
Similarly, Emmanuela Gakidou, University of Washington professor of global health who also worked on the study, said that other governments could see success in reducing smoking if they had the political willpower to make it happen.
“If more countries were able to repeat the success we have seen in Norway, Mexico, and the United States, we would see much less health loss from smoking.”
Whether or not Norway’s government will get behind a proposed nationwide tobacco ban is far from clear. Spokespeople for each of Norway’s main dominant political parties — Conservative, Labour, Centre and Christian Democrats — all told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that the proposed tobacco ban for adults is not “feasible.”
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[Image via Shutterstock/Myroslava Gerber]