Saturday. 24.08.2019
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Half of Finns support raising minimum age to buy tobacco to 20 years

According to a survey conducted by public health organization ASH Finland, 63% of the population would like a total ban of tobacco on beaches, 60% on bus stops and 52% on taxi stands. Women were more in favor of extending bans on every issue than men.
A woman lights a cigarette. Photo: Victoria Borodinova.
A woman lights a cigarette. Photo: Victoria Borodinova.
Half of Finns support raising minimum age to buy tobacco to 20 years

One in two Finns is in favor of raising the age limit for purchasing tobacco and other nicotine products to 20 years. There is also a majority of people who are in favor of a ban on tobacco products in public places such as children's playgrounds, beaches, bus stops and taxi stands.

Those are the conclusions of a survey conducted by ASH Finland, a national public health organization dedicated to promoting tobacco cessation as well as intoxicant-free lifestyle.

According to the results of the survey published by ASH, 51% of the respondents supported raising the purchase age for tobacco and other nicotine products from the current 18 to 20 years

There are, however, more than a third of the population that does not support the idea. 32% of participants said they were against raising the age limit and the remaining 17% replied that they did not have a clear position on this subject.

“The differences between the population groups were small, and even in the youngest age group, raising the age limit was (the choice for) 46 per cent. Neither did the socio-economic groups. Up to 42% of regular smokers are in favor of raising the age limit. Ultimately, it is about protecting young people”, said Mervi Hara, CEO of ASH Finland.

Amendments to Tobacco Act

ASH remarked that this view of the population is in line with the tobacco task force set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The working group proposed the Government to amend the Tobacco Act so that tobacco products, nicotine fluids and nicotine-containing tobacco substitutes should not be sold to persons under the age of 20.

“Smoking usually begins in adolescence, with only a few starting at the age of 20. Higher age limits make it harder for young people to buy tobacco products. In addition, the age limit for all nicotine products will prevent young people from developing nicotine addiction”, highlighted Mervi Hara.

Bus stops are non-smoking

Those responsible for the survey ensure that a majority of respondents are in favor of bans on tobacco use in new locations. "63% of the population would like a ban on beaches, 60% on bus stops and 52% on taxi stands", Ash Finland wrote in its website. Women were more in favor of extending bans on every issue than men.

The study also concluded that there is a clear preference for non-smoking bus stops in the Greater Helsinki area and in urban municipalities. In the Helsinki metropolitan area, 66% and in urban municipalities, 60% are in favor of a ban on tobacco products. Even in rural areas, over half of the respondents were in favor of non-smoking bus stops.

Division on balcony smoking

Numbers show there is a division regarding a total ban on balcony smoking. ASH Finland says 46% are in favor of a total ban and 42% against. Regionally, the largest proportion of ban-supporters was in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (51%).

“Of course, there is more support for a ban where tobacco smoke is inadvertently inhaled. In urban environments, people live close to each other”, says Hara.

The support for non-smoking playgrounds was high in both urban and rural areas. In total, 84% of respondents would ban the use of cigarettes, snuff and e-cigarettes mainly in playgrounds for children. Almost 80% of regular or occasional smokers are also in favor of the ban, says ASH Finland.

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