Tobacco smoking among young people in Denmark is declining

Crowd of People Walking Down Walkway Past Stores, Blurred Motion

More expensive cigarettes, a smoke-free school, along with a number of additional tobacco prevention measures, have had a substantial and sought-after effect in Denmark. In three years, daily smoking amongst 18-19-year-olds has decreased from 12 to 6 percent. This reported from the Danish Cancer Foundation (Kræftens Bekæmpelse) and TrygFonden (Insurance) and their study “A smoke-free future”.

In the age span 14-17-year-olds, the trend is gratifyingly the same. However, smokers in the older group are those in particular focus, as they to a greater extent tend to continue to be tobacco users.

– We are extremely happy that young people’s daily cigarette consumption is decreasing. Not the least considering that many of those who start at an early age, at later stage, in one way or another, will die in conjunction to their smoking, says Mette Lolk Hanak, Head of Preventive Work at the Danish Cancer Society.

Studies show that most smokers have started well before the age of 18. That’s why there’s a good reason to celebrate the fact that fewer young people decide not to, says Jette Jul Bruun, deputy head of TrygFonden.

In 2020 figures from Danish Retail ( show a remarkable decrease in cigarette sales in Danish stores versus previous year. Coop cigarette sales dropped 20 percent compared to 2019. Food chain Salling Group (Bilka, Netto, Føtex and others) reported an equivalent ten.

– A few years ago, we saw a tedious increase in young people smoking. But the fact that a vast number of politicians, professionals, companies and organizations jointly have agreed on a number of initiatives, has made a huge difference, says Mette Lolk Hanak. Emphasizing how smoke-free school hours, a smoke-free sports life and a less visible exposure of tobacco products in shops have made the cloud caused by young people’s smoking less dense. On top of that, early spring politicians further pushed the price of a pack of cigarettes to 55 danish crowns (€ 7.40) as an additional purchase threshold.

December 2020, a broad political majority in Denmark adopted a “National action plan against smoking children and young people”. It means, among other things, a future where smoke-free school hours are mandatory and that all tobacco in the future will be sold below the counter.

– This is a step in the right direction, but there’s no reason to rest on our laurels. We won’t give up until consumption has reached significantly lower levels, says Mette Lolk Hanak from the Danish Cancer Society.

The Danish Cancer Association “En Rökfri framtid” (A Smoke free future) partnered with TrygFonden in 2017. The goal is for no children or young people to smoke beyond 2030.

Source: Ritzau