That is why the tobacco issue is politically important

By Politiker

Tobacco is still a big problem in the world and millions of young people are lured in to addiction every year. In addition to serious damage to health, tobacco use costs society billions every year and has a major impact on the environment. Through important tobacco policy decisions, you as a politician can counteract this – and at the same time promote a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable development.

Many countries in the world has ratified the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Convention (WHO FCTC). Few of them has implemented all the recommended measures to continue reducing and preventing tobacco use. Tobacco use in all its forms ways entails serious health risks and a financial burden for the individual, but also constitutes an enormous burden for the entire society.

Most countries in the world has ratified the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Convention (WHO FCTC). Few of them has implemented all the recommended measures to continue reducing and preventing tobacco use. Tobacco use in all its forms ways entails serious health risks and a financial burden for the individual, but also constitutes an enormous burden for the entire society.

Watch: short animated film about the negative impact on the environment
Read: Environmental impacts of the tobacco industry – a survey of the research situation 2020 

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have the right to good physical and mental health, which means that all political decisions that affect children must be made with the best interests of the children in mind. Children’s rights should be a top priority and a guide in tobacco policy. Almost everyone who uses tobacco starts as a child, which makes children the main target group in the tobacco industry. In your role as a politician, you can help protect children from being attracted to a harmful nicotine addiction – which is directly contrary to their right to life, health and development.

Making decisions that improve public health, the economy and the environment is your responsibility as a politician, and tobacco policy is an important and effective tool. The introduction of laws to protect children from nicotine addiction is a benefit for everything and everyone – except the tobacco industry

Read more about why it is so important to protect children from nicotine and about the new products that attract children.

What do you want to know more about?

Tobacco Convention – support in political work

By Politiker

The Tobacco Convention is like a toolbox with a variety of tobacco control measures based on research and experience. It is an important support for politicians aiming at influencing tobacco policy and politics.

The full name of the Tobacco Convention is the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Parties to the Convention agree on the objective of the Convention and on a framework for the actions and strategies to be implemented to achieve the objective. The articles of the Convention leave a great amount of freedom for the member countries to make tobacco control laws and efforts to address tobacco use in a way that suits the country’s conditions.

The Convention contains 38 articles 
Many of these also include guidelines that describe in more detail how tobacco control measures should be implemented according to research and experience. The articles deal with, among other things, the means of helping people to get out of the habit of using tobacco, health warnings, tax and pricing policies that result in high and rising tobacco prices, regulation of tobacco products’ content, laws on smoke-free environments, and bans on marketing.

The Tobacco Convention entered into force 2005 and was ratified by Sweden the same year. In spring 2021, 168 countries had signed it. This means that the convention affects 90 percent of the world’s population.

Changed focus
The Tobacco Convention has changed many politicians’ and decisionmaker´s attitude towards  tobacco issues. In the past, tobacco use was often seen as the result of bad choices by individuals and the social discussion focused on how to change tobacco users’ way of life. The Tobacco Convention has clarified that the tobacco issue is, above all, a political issue. The focus has shifted to society’s responsibility to make it easier for citizens to be tobacco free. The Tobacco Convention also clearly highlights the tobacco industry’s – often secret – strategies for influencing tobacco policy. Strategies that aim at preventing tobacco use in the world from falling.

Tobacco threatens sustainable development
Thanks to the Tobacco Convention, the tobacco issue has gained a more prominent place in the international work on global health, sustainable development, and human rights. For example, all the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda have a relation to tobacco control. This is because tobacco use and production lead to enormous damage to people and the environment, cause huge social costs and thus hinder social, economic, and environmentally sustainable development.

Tobacco Convention and the Rights of the Child
As regards the rights of the child, the Tobacco Convention and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child have the same views. The aim of the Tobacco Convention is to protect ”present and future generations” from tobacco harm and the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that countries must acknowledge the right of the child to enjoy the best attainable health. Society has a responsibility to protect children from the tobacco industry’s attempts to recruit them as future tobacco consumers.

Read more on the WHO Tobacco Convention website

What do you want to know more about?

Article 5:3
The tobacco industry shall have nothing to do with public health policy

By Politiker

As a politician, you should carefully consider before meeting representatives from the tobacco industry. It is part of the Tobacco Convention. 

Article 5.3 of the Tobacco Convention states that countries must act to protect public health policy from commercial and other vested interests in the tobacco industry, on tobacco control issues. The reason for this harsh attitude is that for many years the tobacco industry has had a clear intention to undermine governments’ public health work on tobacco. This is explained in the introduction of the Guidelines for Article 5.3. To make it easier for countries to keep their distance, there are four main principles to be taken on.

  1. There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the interests of the tobacco industry and the interests of public health policy.
  2. When dealing with the tobacco industry and those working to promote its interests, the government should act responsibly and transparently.
  3. When interacting with the tobacco industry and those who promote its interests, the government must demand them to conduct responsibly and transparently.
  4. Because the tobacco industry’s products are lethal, it should not be granted incentives to establish or run their businesses.

Based on these four main principles, there are eight recommendations for what countries should do to comply with the Convention. Point two of the recommendations is addressed directly to you as a politician. You should carefully consider the issue of the meeting with representatives of the tobacco industry. The outcome of the meeting should be reported in such a way that all citizens can take part in it.

The eight recommendations:

  1. Raise awareness about the harmfulness of tobacco products and of the tobacco industry’s interference with tobacco policy. This requires continuous information and training.
  2. Have as little as possible to do with the tobacco industry and report the interactions that yet occur. Before meeting with representatives of the tobacco industry government representatives and policymakers should carefully consider the matter. If members of parliament, for example, have such meetings, they must be reported publicly.
  3. Say no to partnerships and agreements with the tobacco industry. This means, among other things, that authorities should not run projects together with tobacco companies. Countries should also not enter into agreements with tobacco companies on, for example, voluntary restrictions on marketing or the like.
  4. Do not create conflicts of interest for government representatives and employees. Ministers, secretaries of state and other officials in the departments should, for example, not have shares in tobacco companies. They should also not be permitted to go directly from working for the government to employment in the tobacco industry.
  5. Demand that information provided by the tobacco industry be transparent and accurate. This can be attained by means of laws on what data tobacco companies must report.
  6. Limit the ability of the tobacco industry to engage in activities that the tobacco industry describes as socially responsible. This is important because tobacco companies are pleased to engage in such activities to improve their reputation.
  7. Do not show partiality to the tobacco industry. Neither domestic nor foreign tobacco industry must benefit in any way, for example by excepting them from stipulations in tobacco legislation.
  8. Treat state-owned tobacco industry in the same way as private-owned industry. Basically, however, the state should not have ownership interests in the tobacco industry, for example by shareholdings.

Guidelines for implementation of artikel 5:3

What do you want to know more about?

Articles 9 & 10
The content of the products shall be regulated and the public shall be informed

By Politiker

The content of tobacco products must be regulated and authorities and the public have the right to know what the products contain, according to the Tobacco Convention. It is not just about protecting people from the hazardous contents of the products, but also against what makes them attractive.

Snus is snus, albeit in golden cans, so the famous Swedish poet Gustav Fröding wrote in a famous poem from 1894. Something similar is expressed in the guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 of the Tobacco Convention. It is about understanding that something is not good, just because it looks good.

Article 9 of the Tobacco Convention stipulates that countries, in consultation with international bodies, must develop guidelines for testing and measuring the content, and emissions from consumption, of tobacco products. It is also about how the products can be regulated.

Article 10 deals with countries having laws and regulations that ensure that manufacturers and importers inform government agencies about the content of tobacco products and emissions from consumption. Countries must also ensure that the public has access to information about the products and their toxic constituents.

The common guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 of the Tobacco Convention state that tobacco products are often produced in a way that makes them as attractive as possible. From a public health perspective, this is not desirable. The Convention therefore calls on countries to introduce laws and regulations that reduce attractiveness.

The guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 highlight three perspectives on tobacco products: toxicity, the risk of them becoming addictive and their attractiveness. The guidelines contain several calls for ways to make the products less attractive. Some examples:

Countries should regulate the presence of ingredients that make the tobacco product tasty. These can be, for example, sugar, sweeteners and spices / herbs such as mint, cinnamon and ginger.

Countries should ban ingredients that give the feeling that they are good for health. These can be, for example, vitamins, and products from fruit and vegetable juices.

Countries should regulate product design aimed at increasing the attractiveness of products. It refers to the constantly ongoing product development that aims to meet different consumers’ wishes in terms of feeling of health, modernity, self-image, comfort, glamor and more.

Information to the public and authorities

In addition to regulations, information can also reduce the products’ attractiveness. The guidelines state that the primary purpose of information is for the public to be aware of the health consequences, that the products are addictive and that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke constitute a deadly threat.

The authorities need knowledge of the national tobacco market to build up regulations and policies for how the products are to be handled. For example, it can be important to know the amount of nicotine in different products on the market, given that nicotine is the main substance when it comes to creating addiction.

Guidelines for implementation of article 9 and 10

What do you want to know more about?

Article 6
Price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco

By Politiker

Article 6 of the Tobacco Convention calls on countries to use tobacco taxes as a means of reducing tobacco consumption. High prices are particularly effective to influence young people’s use of tobacco.

To comply with Article 6 of the Tobacco Convention, Parties of the Convention are committed to:

  1. Impose taxes and influence price formation to reduce tobacco use.
  2. Restrict travelers purchases and import of tax-free tobacco products.

The Guidelines for Article 6 state that young people are twice to three times more responsive to price changes than older people. Therefore, tax increases will reduce tobacco use initiation and tobacco consumption among young people as well as the risk that they can’t stop using it.

The guidelines point out that low- and middle-income earners are more sensitive to tobacco price changes than high-income earners. From a public health perspective, higher taxes lower consumption of  tobacco, especially among low-income earners, and will, thereby, reduce the morbidity and mortality rates in the population. In Sweden, cigarette addiction is more common among women and men with low incomes, according to a survey from CAN, the Central Association for Alcohol and Drug Education. Among women, snus addiction is most common in the low-income category, but among men snus addiction is most common among middle-income earners.

The guidelines point out that tobacco taxes both reduce consumption and raise government revenue which can be used to cover part of the social costs caused by tobacco use.

The guidelines for Article 6 include a number of recommendations for putting the article into practice:

  1. Parties should design their tax systems for tobacco products in a way that taxes can be adapted to inflation and changes in purchasing power with the aim of continuously reducing tobacco consumption.
  2. The Parties shall establish a tax system adapted to achieving both public health and fiscal objectives. It is preferable to apply specific excise taxes charged per quantity, such as per cigarette pack, regardless of price.
  3. The tax system must be monitored and adjusted regularly.
  4. All tobacco products shall be taxed in a similar way to avoid that some tobacco products benefit from the taxing scheme. By that, the system will not inadvertently encourage consumers to choose cheaper products within the same product category.
  5. The tax system must be transparent and shall be supervised effectively.
  6. The Parties shall facilitate tax controls. They shall, inter alia, have systems in place to make it more difficult for manufacturers and importers to increase stocks in anticipation of tax increases to take advantage of the current lower tax.
  7. When appropriate, the parties may claim fiscal markings on packs of tobacco products.
  8. The Parties shall ensure that there is an effective supervisory system and cooperation between the authorities involved, such as tax and customs authorities.
  9. The Parties should consider using earmarked tobacco taxes to be used for financing tobacco control measures.
  10. The Parties should consider prohibiting or severely restricting tax-free or duty-free sales of tobacco products to international travelers.


WHO Framework convention on tobacco control
Guidelines for implementation of Article 6

What do you want to know more about?

Article 8
Everyone should be protected
from exposure to secondhand smoke

By Politiker

There is no doubt that passive smoking is extremely dangerous. It causes deaths, illnesses, and disabilities. People need to be protected against environmental tobacco smoke. Article 8 requires that the Parties (countries that have signed the Tobacco Convention) adopt measures to protect their citizens against exposure to secondhand smoke.

Anyone who smokes a cigarette breathes in only a quarter of the smoke. The remainder is breathed out into the environment by the smoker where it can be breathed in by non-smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke may increase the risk of, for example, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, and cancer. This violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of man, as set forth, for example, in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Article 8 of the Tobacco Convention commits countries to work actively to ensure that people are protected from secondhand smoke indoors, in the workplace, on public transport, in indoor public places and, where appropriate, in other public places. Tobacco-free laws and promotion of smoke-free environments are measures that can be used for protection from secondhand smoke.

There is empirical evidence that children are particularly vulnerable to environmental tobacco smoke exposure Therefore, they are at particular risk of health effects induced by passive smoking.

Nicotinfree  school
Children and young people could be protected by a ban on smoking and use of other nicotinproducts in schoolyards. It would result in pupils being protected from tobacco use and from getting sight of tobacco products during school hours. Pupils and staff have a shared responsibility to create a tobacco-free workplace.

The explanation of the insistence on tobacco-free school hours is that young people shall not be lured into beginning to use tobacco products in school. If fewer pupils use tobacco products, it also means that fewer people are exposed to secondhand smoke, both in the short and long term.


WHO Framework convention on tobacco control
Guidelines for implementation of Article 8

What do you want to know more about?

Article 12
Everyone has the right to know about tobacco

By Politiker

The public has the right to know about the negative consequences of tobacco and how tobacco use can be removed or minimized. This is stated in Article 12 of the Tobacco Convention.

The success of the information mission, under Article 12, requires countries to communicate, by all available means, about the negative consequences of tobacco production, consumption, and secondhand smoke. The guidelines stress the need for effective training, communication, and training programs linked to all types of tobacco products, including new and alternative products. Special attention should also be paid to the impact the products may have on vulnerable groups. The information should also concern the tobacco industry’s strategies to impede tobacco control, i.e., the work to reduce or completely remove tobacco use.

Politicians important for disseminating information

The dissemination of the messages needs to be done in different ways to succeed. One way is through educational programs for the public. Another way is through education for people who then disseminate the message. Examples of intermediaries mentioned are staff in schools, health care and social services, but also politicians and other decision-makers.

In Sweden, information, education, and advocacy have been the mainstays of tobacco prevention, ever since the 1960s, long before the United Nation Tobacco Convention entered into force. Adequate and long-term financial resources are essential  to maintain the quality and supply of information and educational materials in several areas. New generations have the same right to knowledge as previous generations about the harmful effects of the use of nicotine products. The information efforts must last as long as the tobacco industry recruits new users of nicotine products.

The Guidelines for Article 12 include :

  • Broad information and training programs are needed to address all forms of tobacco use.
  • All information and training operations shall be protected from the tobacco industry and no cooperation whatsoever shall take place between the Parties and the tobacco industry or its allies.
  • There is a need of training programs that are evidence-based and based on best practices.
  • A fundamental aim is to achieve social disapproval of tobacco, tobacco cultivation, the tobacco industry, and the use of tobacco.
  • The involvement of the civil society in the work is always important.

What do you want to know more of?

Article 13
Stop all advertising and sponsorship

By Politiker

Article 13 of the Tobacco Convention requests countries to impose a total ban on advertising, marketing, and sponsorship. In Sweden, the general rule is that tobacco advertising is forbidden. However, limited marketing in stores, such as information that they sell tobacco products, is allowed. Despite this, young people are exposed to tobacco advertising both in stores and on social media. As a politician, you can contribute to bringing about a change for the better.

Article 13 is founded on evidence-based practice that a total ban on marketing and sponsorship will reduce tobacco use. The Parties (countries that have signed the treaty that is the basis of the Tobacco Convention) are urged to impose a total ban. If this is not possible, because of the country’s constitution, as strong restrictions as possible should be implemented.

In the 1990s, long before Sweden had ratified the Tobacco Convention, advertising of tobacco products was banned. However, limited marketing is still allowed. It must be neutral and not intrusive or encourage to tobacco use. The justification for this exception to the law is that it enables tobacco consumers to make informed choices.

Visible tobacco products in stores is counted as advertising according to the Guidelines of the Tobacco Convention. In Finland, Norway, and Iceland, such exposure is prohibited. Iceland was the first in the world to, as early as 2001, introduce a ban on display of tobacco products. Experience from countries that have imposed exposure bans shows that this is an effective measure not only to help prevent tobacco use initiation among children, adolescents, and adults, but also to help people wanting to quit use of tobacco products.

There is strong support among the Swedish public for forbidding tobacco companies to using stores to market tobacco products. In the spring of 2020, Kantar Sifo, a Swedish market research company, conducted an opinion poll on behalf of Tobaksfakta. The reason was that tobacco companies were aggressively using retail outlets to market cigarettes. According to the polling result, 72 percent of the respondents was in favor of forbidding promotion of tobacco products in stores.

In the latest review of the Tobacco Act, it was proposed that exposure bans should be introduced in Sweden. However, this proposal was not included in the government bill and, therefore, not in the revised Tobacco Act.

Another topic raised in Article 13 of the Tobacco Convention is neutral tobacco packaging. It has been introduced in Norway and 20 other countries have introduced or intend to introduce it. In Sweden, it has been discussed for many years. Last year, the matter was raised in an official report called Ett ändamålsenligt skydd för tryck- och yttrandefriheten (An effective protection of freedom of the press and speech). The investigation was carried out by a parliamentary committee. One of their tasks was to decide on whether branded packaging of nicotine products could be excepted from the Freedom of the Press Act’s stipulations. The Committee concluded that this was not possible because it could come into conflict with freedom of establishment and of disseminating information of public interest. The Committee submitted, however, a proposal on how a constitutional provision could be formulated to allow for regulation of tobacco packaging in common law However, the Committee did not consider whether such a provision should be introduced.

The think tank Tobaksfakta has for many years argued for neutral packaging and is of the opinion that it can be implemented within the scope of the Freedom of the Press Act. Furthermore, they write that the harmful effects of tobacco use are so great that society must go all out for protecting children and young people from the tobacco industry’s use of tobacco packaging as a form of advertising.

WHO Framework convention on tobacco control

Guidelines for implementation of article 13

What do you want to know more about?