Finnish Smoking Ban Expected by Summer
he Finnish government took further measures for public health in January by proposing a ban on smoking in private cars with underage occupants and prohibiting stores from displaying tobacco products.
While government statistics report that only 20 percent of the Finnish population smokes, the goal is to eliminate smoking entirely, said state Health Ministry secretary Ilkka Oksala in an interview with the BBC.
Health experts for the Seventh-day Adventist Church supported the move, citing the church’s longtime emphasis on health and wellness.
SMOKING BAN: The Finnish government recently proposed stricter smoking laws that will likely take effect this summer. The restrictions include no smoking in cars with underage occupants and a ban on displaying tobacco products in stores.
“Any measure that makes a substance a little more difficult to acquire . . . has been shown to result in a decreased consumption of the product,” said Allan Handysides, director of health ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “There’s a linear association between the amount of the product used and the amount of the disease that we see in the whole community.”
What people don’t realize when they start smoking is that giving up the habit is just as difficult as giving up cocaine or heroin, Handysides said.
Handysides added that making tobacco products less visible was key.
“It’s a psychological impediment to it being so readily accessible, and that’s a very, very good thing,” he said.
Finland’s ruling party in Parliament is championing the antismoking legislation and faces little opposition from other parties, the BBC reported. The proposed laws will likely be implemented by summer.
“To make Finland a smoke-free country is probably the boldest goal ever against smoking from the [Finnish] health authorities,” said Atte Helminen, president for the Adventist Church in Finland. “It is great to see how the health principles [the church] has promoted for so long are now recognized by the government as well.”
The Finnish Parliament first outlawed tobacco advertising in 1976.
--Reported by Megan Brauner, Adventist News Network.