Jan 15, 2010

Finland poised to take next step in smoking ban

Thousands of Michigan residents are anxiously looking forward to its bars and restaurants going smoke free on May 1, but 37 states and numerous foreign countries are already enjoying healthily dinning and socializing in a clean atmosphere. But Finland wants to take it even farther.

The country of more than 5 million people plans to completely abolish smoking, starting with a ban on displaying tobacco products and smoking in cars carrying minors this spring. Europe has been shifting towards an anti-smoking culture for some time now, driven by the need to reduce costs to national health care systems, but Finland is taking to the extreme.

Finland has only been smoke free since June of 2007, but the State Secretary has made it plain that these are only the first steps to get rid of tobacco once and for all. That may be possible in Finland because they do not have a tobacco industry, but some other countries are also considering it.

New Zealand’s Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Committee is hoping to make the country tobacco free by 2020. It may be a little more difficult there than in Finland because they actually grow tobacco in New Zealand.

I’m not sure I support this. If a person wants to indulge in the privacy of their own home, I guess they should be able to. Of course I wish people would just stop this unhealthy habit that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars on their own, but I hate to see smoking criminalized, like smoking marijuana. At least marijuana has a medical benefit; tobacco smoke does not.

We’ll see how this pans out.