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Danes flock to buy cigarettes abroad as prices rise in Denmark

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
Danes flock to buy cigarettes abroad as prices rise in Denmark
Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The number of cigarettes bought by Danish people outside of the country has tripled since 2019, according to the Ministry of Taxation. The increase coincides with the rise in cigarette prices in Denmark.

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In 2019, a total of 250 million cigarettes were bought by Danes in shops across the border. By 2022, that number increased to 700 million, according to the Ministry of Taxation. That is a rise in spending from 410 million kroner to 1.15 billion kroner.

The figures coincide with the rise in price of cigarettes in Denmark, as part of a government initiative to reduce smoking in the country. In 2020, cigarette pack prices rose by 15 kroner and then by another 5 kroner in 2022, increasing the total cost to around 60 kroner for a pack of cigarettes. 

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"The Ministry of Taxation's figures speak for themselves. You cannot raise taxes in Denmark without increased cross-border trade. Cigarettes bought abroad do not make the Danes healthier, but the treasury and the shops poorer," Janick Nytoft, managing director of the industry organisation The Cooperative Merchants told newswire Ritzau.

A 2022 survey of Danes' smoking habits, showed that the rise is cigarette prices had not reduced the number of smokers in the country.

In 2022, 19 percent of people in Denmark smoked daily or occasionally, compared to 18 percent recorded in 2020. 

The figure had noticeably risen among 15-29 year olds, where 25 percent said they smoked daily or occasionally in 2022, compared to 23 precent in 2020. The same age group also saw a rise in users of e-cigarettes and smokeless nicotine products.

"The development is disappointing, and the figures show that the price increase was too small for us to see an effect. The price needs to increase significantly if we want fewer smokers,” Mads Lind, chief consultant at the Heart Association told DR Nyheder in February this year.

“We think that 90 kroner for a pack of cigarettes is reasonable. That will put us up there with the likes of Australia, Norway and England, where prices are over 100 kroner,” he said.

The rise in price of cigarettes in Denmark has been part of a wider range of proposals from the government aimed at reducing the number of young people who smoke. Other proposed initiatives have included neutral packaging and a ban on displaying cigarettes in stores, as well as a ban on cigarette sales for people born after 2010. 

The latter proposal has been met with criticism because it could result in a 29-year-old being banned from buying cigarettes, while a 30-year-old could buy them, due to each individual’s year of birth. The proposal would also require a change to the EU tobacco directive

According to the National Health Authority, Sundhedsstyrelsen, around 13,600 people die every year from smoking in Denmark – about a quarter of all deaths. 

READ ALSO: Denmark considers permanent ban on cigarette sales for people born after 2010

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