World Cancer Day – ”Europe needs the Swedish snus effect"
Every year, World Cancer Day takes place on the 4th of February. For us, it’s an opportunity to spread knowledge about what we can do so that fewer people are affected by cancer.
World Cancer Day was established 23 years ago by the initiative of the International union against cancer, and is now one of the UN's internationally recognized days.
Although the negative effects of smoking tobacco are common knowledge, smoking is still the most common cancer type that can be prevented.
Over 7 million people die as a direct result of smoking, of which almost 700,000 within Europe.
Large differences between Sweden and the rest of Europe
However, in Sweden, the number of tobacco-related deaths are half of the European average. Sweden is also the only country that is closing up on the target of less than five percent of the adult population being smokers. According to a study by the Swedish Public Health Agency, only six percent of the population said they were daily smokers. To be compared to the European average of 18.4 percent.
Sweden also has the lowest number of smoking-related deaths among men in Europe, the lowest number of smoking-related deaths caused by lung cancer, and the lowest number of new smoking-related cancer cases. Instead of smoking, Swedish men has been using snus.
But the number of tobacco-related deaths is still too high in Europe and the rest of the world.
The rest of the world needs to follow Sweden's example
A report from Lakeville shows that oral nicotine, such as snus and nicotine pouches, is important to help smokers to quit. Although many countries have had both stricter regulations and higher cigarette prices than Sweden, the number of smokers is substantially higher.
The main difference between Europe and Sweden is that Swedes have been able to choose snus instead of smoking. A possibility that the rest of Europe has been denied. Now other alternative nicotine products, like nicotine pouches, have rapidly made an impact on the European market.
In countries that have had a more open attitude towards alternative nicotine pouches, the number of smokers is lower, or the number of smokers is declining faster. In countries that are pushing back on less harmful nicotine alternatives, the fight against smoking moves slower, despite stricter regulations and higher taxes.
Hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved every yearThe Lakeville report shows that a more allowing attitude from the European countries could decrease the number of deaths from smoking with 210,000 lives per year. The study focuses on men, because there is more historical data of men using oral nicotine product, mainly snus. But given the fact that more women and now using nicotine pouches as an alternative to smoking, the assumption is that, over time, the number of prevented deaths could be over 300 000 per year.
Cancer is a prioritised subject for the European countries. Sadly, many countries fail to see that the fight against cancer consists of two parts. That more people survive once getting cancer, and that less people get it at all.
The latter needs more attention. Only when both are successful, we have reason to celebrate. The goal has to be that there is no need for a World Cancer Day in the future.
Unrealistic? Maybe. But we cannot give up. And one important part of this is converting smokers into less harmful nicotine alternatives. All you need to do is have a look at Sweden, and you will have another piece of the map for the end goal – the Swedish snus effect is needed all over Europe.