On Monday morning the Swedish Minister of Public Health, Gabriel Wikström, Social Democrat, appeared on television. In the TV interview Gabriel Wikström said that he and his government endorses the Tobacco Endgame target. He also stressed that it´s not enough to set a target:

– It will require tremendous lot of work to achieve the goal, he said.

This job has, says Gabriel Wikström, begun with the bill that the government recently submitted to implement the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive. The bill provides, among other things, larger health warnings with pictures on tobacco packets and banning of certain flavorings in cigarettes and rolling tobacco. And the job should, stressed Gabriel Wikström, continue with the steps an ongoing investigation presents report on March 1. Among the measures under consideration are plain packaging and smoking bans in outdoor environments, especially where children are present.

– The clear announcement that the goal is there and that it must be filled with action is very important, says Göran Boëthius, president of the Swedish think tank Tobaksfakta and one of those working with the advocacy initiative Tobacco Endgame – Smoke Free Sweden 2025.

This initiative has so far collected nearly 90 organizations who want a national political decision on a target date for the phasing out of smoking in Sweden. The aim is to reduce smoking to less than 5% of the population til 2025.

– We hope to support the Government in its future work, both with knowledge and with continued advocacy, says Göran Boëthius.

– Something that is currently very positive is that more and more counties and regions showing interest to support our demands.

In the TV morning show Public Health Minister Gabriel Wikstrom stressed that 12 000 people in Sweden every year die prematurely because of smoking, that 100 000 people fall ill from smoking-related illnesses, and that smoking is behind every six cancer death.

– Therefore, we have a responsibility to take the actions that are available. It will benefit our children and young people, he said.

– We want to lead the development, not go backwards into the future.

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