Raise the price of cigarettes, urge experts

Charging 100kr a pack would lead to a drop in smokers, claims an independent health committee

If the politicians want the number of smokers to go down, they need to let the price of cigarettes go up. That is the conclusion of some leading health experts from Vidensråd for Forebyggelse, an independent committee working with prevention of diseases and the enhancement of public health.

A pack of cigarettes costing 100 kroner would especially prevent many young people from smoking, claim the experts.

“The hardened smokers who can afford it will keep on smoking, but they are also not the main target,” Morten Grønbæk, the chairman of the committee and the head of Statens Institut for Folkesundhed (National Institute of Public Health), told Berlingske newspaper .

“It is terrible that so many young people start smoking – if they had to pay 100 kroner per packet, it would definitely affect their consumption. The percentage of smokers would drop dramatically."

According to Grønbæk, Norway recently raised the price of cigarettes to 100 kroner and has already seen a large decrease in young smokers.

More than 20 percent of Danes smoke, and this figures rises to 25 percent in the 16-20 age bracket.

Minister not willing to raise price
The committee is ready with a number of health proposals, which will all be presented at a conference in parliament today. The hope is to influence politicians and other decisions-makers.

The committee also suggests that only retailers with a licence should be allowed to sell tobacco in order to limit the smokers’ access to cigarettes.

However, the minister for health, Nick Hækkerup (S), has rejected the idea of raising the price of a pack of cigarettes to 100 kroner.

“We have no plans to increase the tax on cigarettes," he told Berlingske.