Based on recent figures provided by the Sundhedsstyrelsen national health board, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of Danes who smoke – the first time in two decades.
So it may seem a bit of a paradox that recent Tax Ministry figures for the number of cigarettes sold in Denmark through legal channels has gone down. Danes bought 5,280 million cigarettes in 2018 – 14 percent (or 850 million) fewer than in 2017.
Last gasp for a gasper?
However, according to the small print accompanying the Sundhedsstyrelsen figures, ‘party smokers’ were included in their calculation.
The fall in cigarette sales can also be more attributable to more people using products such as e-cigarettes, Swedish-style snuff that is placed in the mouth, or heat-not-burn tobacco.
“People are smoking less because it has become more inconvenient; it’s simply more difficult to be allowed to smoke in public spaces,” tobacco researcher Charlotta Pisinger told DR Nyheder.
No room for complacency
The Danish cancer organisation Kræftens Bekæmpelse welcomes the new figures. “This is excellent. The fewer cigarettes sold the better, and it would be wonderful if the trend continues,” commented Jesper Fisker, the organisation’s CEO.
To that end, Fisker would like to see more done from the government’s side: primarily cigarette prices being increased.
The health minister, Ellen Trane Nørby, urges caution when it comes to interpreting the new figures.
“We must remember there is no one simple solution and that we must work on a number of fronts to get the number of smokers down,” she told Politiken.
“Even though there are fewer cigarettes being sold in Denmark, we’re nowhere near attaining our goal.”