Number of smokers in Denmark up for first time in 20 years

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Number of smokers in Denmark up for first time in 20 years
File photo: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

A significant increase in smokers in Denmark has been recorded for the first time in two decades.


The figures, which come from an annual survey of smoking habits in Denmark amongst 5,017 people, show an increase of 21.1 percent of the population who regularly lit up in 2016 to 23.1 percent last year.

That corresponds to an increase of 9.5 percent over two years.

The survey was conducted by the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) and three other organisations who will publish the results on Thursday, Politiken reports.

Sporadic, small increases in smoking statistics have in recent decades broken up an overall trend towards lower numbers, but statistics now show a tangible increase, the report concludes.

Niels Them Kjær, a project manager with charity the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse), called the findings of the report a “catastrophe”.

“It is terrible that we will, also in the future, see many Danish people die of cancer,” Kjær told Ritzau.

Almost 5,000 people die annually in Denmark due to smoking-related cancer, Kjær said.

Nordic neighbours Sweden, Norway and Finland have not shown statistical increases in numbers of smokers as seen in Denmark.

Kjær said higher prices and stricter marketing regulation, as well as increasing the number of no-smoking areas, were key in breaking the upward curve on smoking in Denmark.

“We can see that this is what works for our neighbours,” he said.

Minister of Health Ellen Trane Nørby said to Politiken that discussion of smoking should not be simplified to talking about the cost of a packet of cigarettes.

“An overall cultural change in society is needed to push this curve downwards,” Nørby said.

Opposition party the Social Democrats said that it was “not a stranger” to considering price increases on tobacco products. The right-wing Danish People’s Party rejected a drastic price increase but said it would consider a small increase that would not disproportionately affect low-earning smokers.

READ ALSO: Nearly half of Danes want smoking breaks to go unpaid: report


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