Finland banning shops from displaying cigarettes..

March 29, 2009 - The Finnish government said on Wednesday it planned to tighten the country's tobacco laws, banning shops from displaying cigarettes in an attempt to prevent youths from starting smoking. Meanwhile, the proposal for the new tobacco law allows bringing 30 cartons of the chewing tobacco “snus” into the country for personal use. However it would be forbidden to sell it or pass it to others. (Finland is a member of the European Union where snus is banned except in Sweden where snus has been used for over 200 years.)

Health and Social Services Minister Paula Risikko: "A visible display of tobacco products in stores would be banned," told reporters. We want to pay special attention to youths. The aim is to cut down the number of smokers and get smokers to quit."

If the bill passes parliament, cigarette vending machines would also be prohibited, she said, adding that customers interested in buying tobacco could ask a store clerk to see a list of available products and prices. The government is scheduled to present its tobacco bill to parliament by the end of June and aims for the new law to come into effect at the beginning of 2010.

In 2007 around one million of Finland's some 5.3 million inhabitants smoked, according to statistics from the National Institute for Health and Welfare. Tightening the tobacco law was needed, Risikko insisted, pointing out that smoking causes illnesses that cost Finland around €2-billion each year. Taxes on tobacco products meanwhile only generate about €600-million in state income annually.

Advertising of tobacco products is already illegal in Finland and the new law proposal also aims to ban all sponsorship by tobacco companies, including donations to charities.

Showing smoking or cigarettes in films or television programmes would however not be prohibited. "Freedom of expression will not be limited," Risikko said.

Related news briefs: Finland - proposal to ban tobacco display, total ban on SNUS.., European Health Commissioner reprimands Astrid Thors for snus liberation campaign..; Aland Islands Dispute Over Sale of SNUS On Board Ships Threatens Finland's Ratification of the EU's Treaty of Lisbon (The Reform Treaty)..; Finnish Ferry Goes Swedish Over Snus Ban.. and EU Takes Finland to Court Again For NOT Banning the Use of Oral Tobacco..

Reference: Display of tobacco products banned in Finland,, 3/25/2007, Cigarette displays banned Finland to ban stores from displaying cigarettes, Straits Times, 3/25/2009, More on restricting tobacco sales in Finland