Finland - anti-smoking bill will end smoking altogether..

January 22, 2010 - this information is similar to that obtained from our correspondence with Dr. Matti Rautalahti, Ylilääkäri - Chief Medical Officer. Suomen Syöpäyhdistys - Cancer Society of Finland.

Finland aims to be the first country to try to create legislation to end smoking altogether. Next spring Parliament will vote on an anti-smoking bill, which is expected to grab headlines worldwide. The passage of time has changed views on smoking. Now Finnish lawmakers plan to take the offensive in the fight against smoking by introducing legislation to prevent people from lighting up.

Ilkka Oksala, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, put the case bluntly. ”Smoking kills, and we in Finland now have a new bill presented by the government to parliament last autumn with an opening clause, the intention of which is to stop smoking altogether in time. Nowhere else in the world is there such a clause.”

Just the thought of such an intention has the tobacco industry fuming. Tobacco giant Philip Morris Finland has already lodged a complaint about the matter with the Chancellor of Justice. ”The goals and methods of the anti-smoking bill are unrealistic… The proposed legislation could have unanticipated repercussions, and naturally we cannot support such initiatives,” declared Marju Vähimaa, CEO of Philip Morris Finland.

The draft legislation seeks to make Finland smoking-free not by an outright ban on smoking, but by methods such as limiting the visibility and availability of tobacco products.

It was as early as 1976 that the Finnish parliament first outlawed tobacco advertising. Soon it will most likely be illegal for tobacco even to be visible in shops.

There is one less-than-successful precedent. In 2004 and 2005, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan banned the sale of all tobacco products and smoking in all public places. However last year the sales ban was lifted following widespread violations.

Reference: Parliament to Consider Anti-Smoking Legislation,, 1/21/2010.

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