Surveys of tobacco use in Europe suggest that the situation in Sweden is unique. Compared with other European countries, Swedes smoke the least, but they do use Swedish snus. Snus is used as a way to quit smoking.
Mortality Attributable to Tobacco, WHO 2012
Men per 100,000
How much do Swedes smoke compared with other Europeans
Smoking is substantially less widespread among adults in Sweden than in most EU countries. 11 percent of the adult population in Sweden smoked in 2011, while smoking in other EU countries varied from 21 to 44 percent (WHO 2008 and national agencies). There may be a number of other factors that contribute to this difference, but snus is a unique phenomenon in Sweden.
Does tobacco use vary according to gender?
Yes, adult men smoke less than adult women in Sweden. However, the use of snus is very common among Swedish men but rather uncommon among women. In 2011, 10 percent of the male population smoked daily compared with 18 percent who used snus. Among Swedish women, 12 percent smoked daily while 3 percent used snus (FHI 2011).
Has snus contributed to the decline in smoking in Sweden in recent decades?
In a status report on public health, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare notes: “The question, however, is what advice to give to those who cannot quit smoking in any other way. Should they not then switch to snus? By using the panel data from Statistics Sweden’s surveys on living conditions in which the same people were interviewed during the periods 1988–89 and 1996–97, we have shown that for each person who switched from snus to smoking, four switched from smoking to snus. Evidently, many have used snus as a way to quit smoking.”
What are the tobacco habits of young Swedes?
Among young men in the16-29 age group, only 8 percent are daily smokers, with only 9 percent in the 30-44 age group. This is record low and may be compared with about 20-40 percent of daily smokers in the 15-24 age group in Europe. However, it must be added that 21 percent of Swedish men in the 16-44 age group use snus daily.
A trend break has been noted among women, with increasing numbers of young Swedish women smoking.13 percent of the 16-29 age group smoke daily, as do 8 percent in the 30-44 age group; these figures may be compared with 17 percent daily women smokers in the 45-64 age group, and11 percent in the 65-84 age group. Of the youngest women, that is, those in the 16-29 age group, 5 percent use snus daily, while 3-4 percent of women in the 30-64 age group do likewise.
Among young women in Europe, smoking habits vary sharply among those in the 15-24 age group: Rumania accounts for the lowest proportion of 9 percent, while Austria accounts for the highest proportion, namely, 37 percent.
The National Institute of Public Health, FHI, 2007
Statens Folkhälsoinstitut, FHI, 2011 Nationella Folkhälsoenkäten (The Swedish National Institute of Public Health, FHI, 2011 National Public Health Survey)
European Commission, Eurostat 2010.