As proof that vaping as a tobacco harm reduction tool has become a global phenomenon in recent years, look no further than the Nordic island nation of Iceland. With a total population of slightly over 330,000 citizens, the entire country is the approximate size of the state of Kentucky.
Yet according to national statistics, nearly 35,000 people or 14 percent of the population were active smokers in 2014. By 2017, that number plummeted to a mere nine percent or about 13,000 citizens which constitutes a 40 percent drop in just three years. At least one public health expert is crediting vaping for what he describes as national smoking rates that are “falling like a rock.”
The latest data was published last month by the National Institute of Health. In an interview with Visir, one of Iceland’s most reputable physicians Dr. Gudmundur Karl Snæbjornsson even goes so far as to call vaping “a blessing,” a sort of miracle aid for smokers trying to quit.
According to Snæbjornsson, the sales of tobacco cigarettes have dropped by 50 percent nationwide since 2008. And while vaping is steadily growing in popularity, Iceland is also experiencing a rapid increase in snus use which Snæbjornsson agrees is another contributing factor to the falling smoking rates.
Vaping & Snus use is rising in Iceland, Sweden, and Norway
Iceland’s neighbors Norway and Sweden are also experiencing similar surges in both vaping and snus use while their national smoking rates are also in freefall. Less than one percent of young adult Norwegians between the ages of 18 to 24 now consider themselves daily smokers. That’s a 30 percent decline since 2001.
And while Norway public health officials have just recently legalized vaping, a consumer advocacy group named the New Nicotine Alliance is pushing for legislation that would effectively ban the sales of snus products nationwide.
“Any reasonable person looking at the spectacular graph for smoking among young Norwegians will be struck by how the fall accelerated after snus became available in 2002. This is no fluke. The end of smoking is in sight in Norway and Sweden as people choose far safer snus instead. So reasonable people will ask why the UK government decided to urge the European Court of Justice to maintain the snus ban in the rest of the EU.”
Will Iceland follow Norway’s lead and consider banning snus? Only time will tell, but Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens has openly stated that there is "absolutely no doubt that access to snus in Sweden and Norway has played a crucial role in the rapid reduction of their smoking rates.”
Related Article: As Norway legalizes vaping, possible snus ban gains traction