Danish smoker numbers up 10 percent in two years – or are they?

Sundhedsstyrelsen figures a “disaster” according to health officials, but are they spreading the net too wide?

Given the number of workplaces, bars, public spaces and transport hubs that are now smoke-free, it seems inconceivable that increasing numbers of Danes would be taking up the habit. 

Significant increase
However, a
ccording to the Sundhedsstyrelsen national health board, for the first time in two decades there has been a significant increase in the proportion of Danes who smoke. Read the report here

Last year the share of the population that smoked was 23.1. percent – up from 21.1 percent in 2016 – a trend in direct contrast with fellow Nordic states Norway, Sweden and Finland, where numbers are steadily decreasing.

Nevertheless, according to relatively recent Eurostat figures, only 12 to 13 percent of the Danish smokers do so on a daily basis.

The Sundhedsstyrelsen figures also include ‘party smokers’, it transpires in the small print of its release.

Cultural shift needed
The Health Ministry warns that Denmark is in dire need of a cultural shift, with its project manager for tobacco prevention, 
Niels Them Kjær, calling the development “a disaster”.

According to tobaccoatlas.org, the economic cost of smoking in Denmark amounts to over 50 million kroner a year, which includes direct costs related to healthcare expenditure and indirect costs related to lost productivity due to early deaths. Around 5,000 people die of cancer every year in Denmark because they have smoked. 

Furthermore, Sundhedsstyrelsen contends that smoking is a major contributor to Denmark lying in the bottom half of the life expectancy figures for western Europe, warning that the price of cigarettes must be cut to address the situation.