Finns in favour of raising tobacco age limit

Most people - including a large percentage of smokers - want to ban anyone younger than 20 from buying tobacco products.

File picture of cigarettes / Credit: iStock

Most Finns want to see an increase in the age limit for buying tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 20 years.

Some 51% of people questioned in a survey for ASH Finland – including 42% of smokers – said they would be happy to raise the age limit. Only 32% of people say they don’t agree with raising the age limit to buy tobacco; while 17% didn’t express an opinion.

“I think people now realise the health impacts of smoking and tobacco use” says Mervi Hara, Executive Director of ASH, which is a public health organisation which works to promote an end to the use of tobacco products.

The new ASH survey finds support too for banning smoking completely near children’s playgrounds, at public places like the beach, and also at bus stops.

“A very important issue is our aim to have a tobacco and nicotine-free society and I guess it has changed a lot of attitudes and behaviour when people realise politicians and decision makers are aware of the consequences of smoking, and want to change the situation” Hara tells News Now Finland.

The survey found only small differences between different age groups, and different socio-economic groups.

According to ASH, smoking usually starts in adolescence and very few people start smoking after the age of 20 – so raising the age limit to buy cigarettes would hopefully discourage young people from starting smoking in the first place.

Targeting snus as well 

ASH is not just targeting cigarettes or cigars, but also snus – which is very popular in Finland even though it cannot be bought here.

“Snus is marketed to young people and it can create nicotine addiction” explains Mervi Hara.

“When you are addicted to nicotine, snus is harder to get. And if you can’t get nicotine from snus it is very easy to buy cigarettes. Very often dual users, they smoke when it is not possible to buy snus” she adds.

The survey was carried out for ASH by Kantar TNS who questioned 2118 people in May and June. The margin of error is 2.1 percentage points.