Out of 37 European countries, Denmark is the second-lowest when it comes to the price of cigarettes compared to other household expenses. Only in Luxembourg is purchasing tobacco more affordable.
The news comes in the wake of findings showing that the decline of smokers in Denmark (aged 15 and over) has stagnated recently at 22 percent (or even edged up a bit), while the share of smokers in nations in which cigarettes are far more expensive – such as the UK and Norway – has decreased even further.
“The price is the most potent weapon at our disposal when it comes to tackling this massive health problem,” Charlotta Pisinger, a doctor with the Department of Clinical Research and Prevention at Frederiksberg Hospital,” told Politiken newspaper.
“We know what works, but in Denmark the politicians refuse to use the strategy that has been proven to be the most effective.”
Pisinger believes the price of tobacco in Denmark needs to be doubled or even tripled before it has an impact.
But despite the outcry from experts, the government doesn’t seem interested in heeding that advice any time soon. The tax minister, Karsten Lauritzen, doesn’t believe raising the prices will have any consequences.
“Geographically, we are located in a place where it’s easy for many people to buy cigarettes abroad. And I’m convinced that just as many people will smoke, except they will instead obtain the tobacco abroad or smuggled in,” he told Politiken.
That argument, however, was shot down by Niels Them Kjær, a spokesperson for tobacco prevention with cancer fighting organisation Kræftens Bekæmpelse.
“Young people simple don’t travel to Germany to buy their first pack of smokes,” he told Politiken.
In Canada, Brazil and the US state of California, increasing the price of tobacco has reduced the share of smokers to below 10 percent. Meanwhile, the share of Danes aged 16-25 who smoke daily has increased from 13 to 15 percent since last year.