May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

Twelve cigarettes a day


Fewer and fewer Norwegians are smoking. But those who do, are not smoking any less than before.

World No Tobacco Day has been marked in Norway on 31 May every year since 1988. The day was created by the member states of the World Health Organization and until 2007 was known as World No Smoking Day. In 2007, the name was changed to World No Tobacco Day to also include snuff and other tobacco products.

In the 50s: three in four men smoked

As in the rest of the western world, smoking became popular in the years following World War II. By around 1950, three out of four adult men were smokers. At this point, the first study to show a definitive link between smoking and lung cancer was conducted, with Morton Levin in The Journal of the American Medical Association asserting that smokers were twice as likely to get lung cancer as non-smokers.

Statistics Norway started measuring smoking habits in 1973. At that time, 42 per cent of the adult population were daily smokers. Through the 1980s and 90s, the share of smokers remained over 30 per cent, but by 2004 had dropped to 26 per cent. The latest statistics from Statistics Norway show that 13 per cent smoked daily in 2015.

Twelve cigarettes a day

Today's smokers smoke an average of 12 cigarettes a day; just as many as smokers in the 1980s and 90s, according to figures from Statistics Norway published by the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (SIRUS). Since the 1990s, the number of daily smokers has fallen in all counties. Most smokers are to be found in Finnmark, where they make up 24 per cent of the population - 50 per cent above the national average.

Swedes smoke the least

Sweden has the lowest share of daily smokers in Europe (13 per cent). On average, the share of daily smokers in the EU fell 12 per cent in the period 2002-2012, according to the publication A healthy look at Norway.

Greece has the largest share of daily smokers in Europe, with 39 per cent of the population. Other countries with a large number of daily smokers include Croatia and Bulgaria.

No particular increase in snuff use

Despite the fact that snuff has grown in popularity in recent years, the share of daily users in Norway has not increased especially since 2012. In 2014, 9 per cent of the adult Norwegian population between the ages of 16 and 74 were daily snuff users. The largest share of snuff users is among young men (23 per cent).

Snuff was banned in EU countries in 1992. Sweden was exempt from this ban, however, when it joined the EU in 1995.