The Swedish Experience with tobacco is one of the main reasons why Sweden is considered the “harm reduction capital of the world”.
The Swedish Experience refers to the country’s unique tobacco consumption habits, which stems from the high prevalence of snus consumption among tobacco users in Sweden. While total tobacco consumption levels in Sweden are comparable with other countries in Europe, Swedish men smoke substantially less than men in other countries.
As a result, the risk of a man dying from a tobacco-related illness in Sweden is lower than in any other European country. And Swedes themselves name snus as the most effective way to quit smoking.
A comparison of smoking rates in Australia, where snus is banned, and Norway, where snus is legal, provides further support for the power of the Swedish Experience and the positive effects of Swedish snus on public health.
Smoking decreases, while snus increases.
Swedes smoke least in Europe. The differences in smoking habits are also considerable when compared with neighboring countries, particularly among men. This can largely be attributed to snus. Of Swedish men in the 16-84 age group, 9 percent smoked every day and 18 percent used snus every day in 2017 and 2018. Of women, 11 percent smoked every day and 4 percent used snus every day.
Approximately 1 million Swedish adults currently use snus, and snus sales have increased over a long period of time, while cigarette sales have declined. Tax changes on snus may also have impacted consumer behavior, such as a temporary hoarding effect prior to an adopted tax increase. Excise tax on snus has increased 251 percent over the past decade, with one subsequent effect that the proportion of untaxed snus products sold in Sweden has risen in recent years. But the long-term trend is clear; the use of snus is growing, while smoking is declining.