Finland - parliament will soon vote on anti-smoking bill..

March 23, 2010 - The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, in 2004 became the world’s first tobacco-free country. As we reported back in January 2010, Finland aims to be the first country to try to create legislation to end smoking altogether. This 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. (Finland - anti-smoking bill will end smoking altogether..; Finland - to end the consumption of tobacco products by 2040..)

Just the thought of such an intention has the tobacco industry fuming. They are most annoyed with the main aim of the newest amendment: to make Finland smoke-free by 2040 by decreasing the number of smokers so low that smoking becomes a very minor issue. 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 industry, which is dominated in Finland by British American Tobacco, Phillip Morris International and Imperial Tobacco, believes the smoke-free goal is unrealistic and constitutional problems need to be resolved.

The opening paragraph from the Tobacco Act of 2009, currently being discussed by Finland’s parliament: The aim of this act is the cessation of the use of tobacco products that are addictive and include toxic substances.” It is a bill comprising a series of the toughest anti-tobacco legislations known and is part of Finland’s vision of becoming the first non-smoking country in the world. It has gone further than any other country has been prepared to go in Europe and this has certainly caught the attention of the industry.

Finland has been a forerunner in regulation – it banned direct tobacco advertising in 1976 and forbad smoking in work places in 1995. The Tobacco Act was proposed in October 2009 and includes the banning of tobacco product displays and any remnant of brand trademarks.

Retail display bans may be nothing new but on this occasion it will be a blanket ban, where the customer will have to ask at the counter for tobacco products and then choose from a list provided by the retailer. In Finland, tobacco cannot be sold to anyone under 18 and it is also illegal to be in possession of tobacco at that age. Prohibitions on smoking are to be extended to areas where children and young people are present. Smoking in vehicles will also be banned when a minor under 18 is present as well as in joint facilities on housing estates.

The proposal also states that lighting up in hotel rooms will be permitted in only some of the rooms; in addition, smoking at events and conventions that are organised to take place outdoors is also on the blacklist and will be banned.

It does not stop there. Vending machines selling cigarettes will be outlawed and the sale and supplying of snuff is to be illegal. Prison sentences of up to six months will be introduced for the contravention [violation] of any of laws regulating tobacco sales and the same maximum sentence will apply to the breaking of prohibitive laws regarding underage smoking.

Euromonitor - Tobacco in Finland, October 2009..

See reference in regard to the resistance from the tobacco industry..

Reference: PMI calls for halt to Finland’s tobacco act,Tobacco Reporter, 3/22/2010; Finland - Europe’s next Bhutan? Finland’s parliament is presently considering a tobacco act that might eventually ban all use of tobacco products, Tobacco Journal International, 3/4/2010.

Finland related news briefs:
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.. and
EU Takes Finland to Court Again For NOT Banning the Use of Oral Tobacco..