• May 23, 2024

‘Quit Like Sweden’ Global Effort Takes Off

 ‘Quit Like Sweden’ Global Effort Takes Off
Photo: QLS

International health experts rallied behind a major new global effort to replicate Sweden’s success at eradicating smoking by embracing a comprehensive approach that could prevent millions of premature deaths globally.

Quit Like Sweden (QLS), launched at a conference in Brazil featuring medical professionals, politicians and policymakers, aims to motivate and support countries worldwide to emulate the example of Sweden, which is set to become the first nation to attain official “smoke-free” status later this year.

“Sweden has achieved this remarkable feat by ensuring that safer alternatives to smoking are accessible, acceptable and affordable,” said QLS founder Suely Castro, a Brazil-born harm reduction advocate in a statement.

“A country where 49 percent of men used to smoke regularly has virtually wiped out this scourge by allowing its smokers to switch to products that pose just a fraction of the risks, such as snus [traditional smokeless tobacco] and other smoke-free alternatives like vapes and nicotine pouches.

“Swedes are reaping the health dividend with significantly lower cancer cases and mortality rates compared to their European counterparts. Now, Quit Like Sweden will amplify this message globally, leveraging expertise and fostering collaboration across stakeholders to help countries replicate the Swedish experience.”

Sweden is winning the war against smoking with a comprehensive approach to tobacco control that supplements traditional cessation and preventive measures with an all-important added element: giving smokers the opportunity to switch to safer alternatives.

Anders Milton, former chair of the World Medical Association and former secretary general of the Swedish Medical Association.

Castro was joined at the launch of her platform by leading harm reduction experts who unveiled new research showing that Brazil could save 1.36 million lives by 2060 by adopting the Swedish approach.

Earlier research has shown that 3 million more Europeans would be alive today if other countries had implemented Sweden’s comprehensive approach to helping smokers quit.

Meanwhile, a study of low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) shows that, through the adoption of Swedish-style policies, Kazakhstan could prevent 165,000 premature deaths in the next four decades while South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan could save 320,000; 920,000 and 1,200,000 lives, respectively.

“Sweden is winning the war against smoking with a comprehensive approach to tobacco control that supplements traditional cessation and preventive measures with an all-important added element: giving smokers the opportunity to switch to safer alternatives,” said research co-author Anders Milton, a former chair of the World Medical Association and former secretary general of the Swedish Medical Association.

“It has set out a policy roadmap that should be treated as a gift to global public health and, potentially, one of the greatest ever breakthroughs in tackling noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

“That’s why QLS is so important. By spreading the message of the Swedish experience to all corners, many millions of premature deaths—including almost 1.4 million here in Brazil—could be prevented in the next four decades.”