Finland - president approves new tobacco act, not as strong as people hoped..

August 23, 2010 - The Finnish President, Tarja Halonen, on Friday, August 20th approved a new tobacco act that the government proposed passing on August 18th.

According to a press release by the Finnish Institute on Occupational Health the new objective of the Tobacco Act is to put an end to the use of tobacco products in Finland. The purpose is to achieve this aim by preventing in particular children and adolescents from taking up smoking. It is claimed that Finland is the first country to lay down the aim of putting an end to smoking in a law.

However, the reports seemed to indicate that the ending of smoking or all tobacco use was to be brought about through the application of various anti-smoker initiatives rather than the introduction of prohibition at some future stated date, as had been reported in the past.

Back in January 2010 it was reported that Finland aims to be the first country to try to create legislation to end smoking altogether. It is doubted the new act will achieve this goal, (January 22, 2010 - Finland - anti-smoking bill will end smoking altogether..) In January 2010 - the Finns had claimed they were going to end the consumption of tobacco products by 2040.

The purpose of the Act is to restrict the marketing and supply of tobacco products especially in the everyday life of children. Not only shops but also private persons may not sell or supply tobacco products to persons under 18. According to the Act, even selling one cigarette or fetching a packet of cigarettes from a shop to a minor person should be interpreted as a tobacco selling violation, for which the person can be fined or sentenced to prison for a maximum of six months. It is also forbidden to offer tobacco without payment to minor persons, but this is not punishable however.

People under 18 are forbidden to import and possess tobacco products. A fine can be imposed on import of tobacco products, but possession is not punishable under the law. In the future, also sellers of tobacco products must be aged at least 18 years.

There will be a total ban on the sale of snuff (like Snus) in Finland, as the ban on import and sale will be extended to also apply to private persons. Ordering snuff e.g. via the Internet will also be forbidden. A maximum of 30 packets, each containing 50 grams snuff, may however be imported for one's own use. It will be forbidden to import snuff as a gift.

The prohibitions against smoking will be extended e.g. in facilities used by children and young people, the joint facilities of apartment house companies, events organised outdoors and hotel rooms.

In the future, tobacco products or their trademarks may not be displayed in retail sale facilities. Customers can at their request be shown a catalogue or be given a printed list of the prices of the tobacco products on sale. Furthermore, the sale of tobacco products from vending machines will be forbidden. The Medicines Act is amended to the effect that nicotine preparations can be sold, besides in shops, kiosks and gas stations, also in restaurants.

The Act enters into force as soon as on 1 October this year. The prohibition on display of tobacco products as well as the restrictions on smoking in hotel rooms enter into force at the beginning of 2012. The vending machines for tobacco products will be forbidden as from the beginning of 2015.

Back on October 1, 2009 the Finnish government unveiled a bill to ban smoking in cars carrying children as well as in places frequented by children. It seems this bill though based on lots of scientific evidence will not be enacted as part of the tobacco act. A Parliamentary Committee for Constitutional Law says in its report that the ban would penetrate so deeply into people’s private lives that it could only be passed in connection with amendments to the Constitution. (Finland - govt can not prevent people from smoking in cars when kids are present..)

Philip Morris International (PMI): Anne Edwards is director of external communications for PMI.. "I understand that one of the objectives in Finland is to try to prevent children from smoking, which of course is a completely valid goal," she continues. "But if you look at some of the statistics to do with smoking here in Finland, about a million tobacco products are sold to teenagers in shops every year. "If you contrast that [with the fact that] there have only been two fines handed out to retailers for selling to kids in the last 30 years, it seems to me that the problem lies elsewhere." (Finland aims to stub out smoking habit by Paul Henley, BBC News, Helsinki, 1/15/2010)

The aim of the Tobacco Act is to put an end to smoking in Finland
, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, 8/19/2010; Finland declares war on smokers, Tobacco Reporter, 8/23/2010. For Further information: Ismo Tuominen, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs, tel. 09 160 73787,

Finland - some related news briefs:
Finland - Philip Morris destroys 20 million cigarettes - not self-extinguishing..;
Finland - govt can not prevent people from smoking in cars when kids are present..;
Finland - proposal for plain cigarette packaging surfaces again..;
Finland - parliament will soon vote on anti-smoking bill..;
Finland - anti-smoking bill will end smoking altogether..;
Finland - to end the consumption of tobacco products by 2040..;
Finland - extends anti-tobacco law, restricting smoking in cars and ban on cigarette displays..;
Finland - health officials devising more restrictions to fight tobacco use..;
Finland - government proposing ban on smoking when kids present and other tobacco control measures..;
Finland may ban smoking in cars carrying children..;
Finland - Court of Appeals Hears Cigarette Liability Case, Decision Spring 2010..;
Finland banning shops from displaying cigarettes..;
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..;
EU Takes Finland to Court Again For NOT Banning the Use of Oral Tobacco..