• Sweden edition
Sweden mulls ban on smoking outdoors

Sweden mulls ban on smoking outdoors

Published: 15 Mar 2012 13:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Mar 2012 13:45 GMT+01:00

"Great public health benefits can be achieved for the individual and society by having fewer smokers and showing a greater deference to those who don't smoke," minister for children and the elderly, Maria Larsson, told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

On Wednesday, Larsson tasked Sweden's National Institute of Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet) with analyzing the extent to which second-hand smoke can be found in public places, and in particular places that are frequented by children.

Larsson wants the agency to come up with proposals that would "further reduce passive smoking" in public places as part of efforts to give younger people greater access to smoke-free environments.

Since 2005, smoking in pubs and restaurants has been banned in Sweden. However, 15 percent of Swedes are still exposed to second-hand smoke at least once a week, according to government statistics cited in Larsson's request.

In looking at how Sweden could further extend its current smoking ban, the public health agency will look at the possibility of prohibiting people from lighting up at bus stops, train platforms, balconies, and open-air cafes – areas highlighted by Sweden's main allergy and asthma advocacy group, the Astma- och Allergiförbundet ('The Asthma and Allergy Association').

Centre Party MP Anders W. Jonsson, a paediatrician, also wants to see smoking banned on pedestrian thoroughfares, balconies, and parts of public parks.

"Places where we don't force other people to smoke," he told SvD.

"My main message is that people should be free to be outside without being exposed to passive smoking."

Jonsson has received several complaints from constituents who say they are unable to spend time on their own balconies because the air is polluted by neighbours' second-hand smoke.

"This smoking on balconies is a real scourge. It really infringes on people freedom to use their balconies," he said.

However, Larsson refused to comment on exactly which outdoor spaces in Sweden might be covered in an extended smoking ban.

"That's why we've launched the inquiry," she told SvD.

"As the minister for children, I'm naturally quite interested in how we can reduce children's risk for exposure to tobacco smoke."

David Landes

Click here to follow David Landes on Twitter

Your comments about this article

14:05 March 15, 2012 by texaslass
The irony of this is that the majority of people I see smoking... are children! I mainly see adolescent girls smoking. If one wants to reduce children's risk of exposure to tobacco smoke, then why not reduce the number of children who smoke.
14:33 March 15, 2012 by philster61
Yes another liberty being gradually chipped away....
14:47 March 15, 2012 by Svensksmith
I'm no big fan of smoking, but isn't this a little ridiculous? What are they going to ban next, campfires?
15:03 March 15, 2012 by Gubbe
Yes, pick on the smokers - but don't worry about the sick people that can't seem to cover up when they sneeze or cough. Don't worry about the exhaust fumes from traffic - complain about the smoker. It's beyond absurd -

What about people eating on their balconies - we should ban that. We shouldn't expose vegetarians to the smell of cooked meats, or meatarians to the smell of veggies.

What is happening in this world - seriously - automobile exhaust is far worse for everyone, and in far greater abundance than the occasional waft of cigarrette smoke. Silly buggers.
15:17 March 15, 2012 by fikatid
Yes, they should ban smoking in parks and sidewalks. In NYC, there's no smoking allowed in public parks. If someone wanna smoke, go ahead and smoke in his/her own apartment. It's so inconsiderate to force others to inhale the second-hand smoke. They should ban smoking in all shared public space.
15:30 March 15, 2012 by soultraveler3
Phil, it may be a liberty for you to smoke, but what about the liberties of those around you that don't want to breathe second-hand smoke or smell like an ashtray?

In order to walk into any public place in Sweden (and many other countries) you almost always have to pass through a group of smokers puffing away right in front of the doors. This is true even in front of places like restaurants and hospitals.

Outdoor seating at restaurants is another huge problem area. Most places here don't have AC so when it's warm it'd be nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy a meal without constantly smelling smoke, getting ash blown on you and your food and having to shower afterwards. Many people with and without children don't want to be exposed to that. It's nasty.

Laws like this have been and will continue to be passed, because unfortunately, the vast majority of smokers don't seem to give a damn about those around them.

It's very rare that you meet a smoker that goes out of their way to make sure that their smoke / ash isn't blowing right in someone else's face. It's also rare to meet a smoker (or in Sweden someone that does snus) that makes sure their butts end up in the proper place and not all over the ground. There are many places here where you literally can't walk without stepping on cigarette butts or old snus.

I know many smokers think that non-smokers are just being sensitive or whiny, but imagine how you would feel if instead of smoking it was someone passing gas. That may seem like a strange analogy but it's not. How would you like to have to pass through a group of people passing gas every time you wanted to go shop or had to go to the hospital? Or how would you like to be out with friends and family trying to enjoy a meal and the nice weather and be surrounded by people constantly passing gas?

You'd think it was rude, disrespectful and disgusting just like smoking is to many people. Smoke is worse though because of it's ability to stay in your clothing and hair and because of the negative health side-effects.

If smokers thought more about those around them and made more of an effort to make sure their habit didn't influence those around them, laws like this wouldn't be passed all the time.
15:41 March 15, 2012 by Amber Dawn
Agreed with the last two posts. I am a former smoker, so I don't know if I am just more sensitive to it or what, but the smells disgusts me. There are SO many places where you HAVE to walk through a group of smokers to get from point A to point B. I am so sick of walking out of a store or restaurant and getting smacked in the face by a cloud of smoke.
15:41 March 15, 2012 by harleyrider1978
Its about time the INSANITY ended! Just how much more radical craziness will the world allow with this present anti-smoking absurdity.......IT HAS TO END AND NOW!
16:16 March 15, 2012 by alexanderm
A few years ago Brisbane (Australia) introduced a similar ban on smoking in public areas and although many were initially sceptical the concept seems to have been accepted well.

It has resulted in a much cleaner city with less pollution of local waterways.
16:16 March 15, 2012 by Douglas Garner
When I lived in Texas, folks were not allowed to smoke within something like 15 meters of a public entrance to a building. I think this was very civilized! I hate walking into or out of a restaurant, school, or shopping mall only to be assaulted by cigarette smoke.

Regarding balconies... don't you just love to smell the smoke drifting in from the balcony below or beside yours? I am very allergic to cig smoke... not only do my sinuses run like crazy, but it makes my skin crawl and itch. A camp fire or outdoor grill does not have that effect on me.
16:22 March 15, 2012 by spo10
i used to smoke as well and made it a point that i smoke on a less crowded area out of respect for those who don't. i agree with this ban and i hope they will start banning smoking on bus stops. i see a lot of people smoking before their designated bus arrives and beside them are mothers with their babies on the carriages or with the elderly and that's just wrong. they should have a designated area where they can smoke at the very least if this ban won't push through.
16:41 March 15, 2012 by gpafledthis
Ex smokers so resemble the "born again"
16:57 March 15, 2012 by Rick Methven

I am an ex smoker and have not been 'born again' but like Amber Dawn said maybe we are more sensitive to second hand smoke. Every time I walk into a shop through the stink of the smoke from those standing in front of the door puffing away, I feel so guilty and ashamed of all those years that I contributed to the misery and suffering of others. I have nothing against smokers or smoking, it is a matter of personal choice, but smokers should not smoke in places that mean others are forced to breath their smoke.
17:38 March 15, 2012 by harleyrider1978

In 1991 NIOSH { OSHA' research group} Looked into ETS although at the time they recommended reducing ETS exposure they found the studies lacking.

NIOSH recognizes that these recent epidemiological studies have several shortcomings: lack of objective measures for charachterizing and quantifying exposures,failures to adjust for all confounding variables,potential misclassification of ex-smokers as non-smokers,unavailability of comparison groups that have not been exposed to ETS, and low statistical power.

Research is needed to investigate the following issues:

1. More acurate quantification of the increased risk of lung cancer associated with ETS exposure,including determination of other contributing factors[e.g.,occupational exposures]that may accentuate the risk.

2.Determination of the concentration and distributuion of ETS components in the workplace to help quantify the risk for the U.S. working population.

a.The association of ETS exposure with cancer other than lung cancer

b.The relationship between ETS exposure and cardiovascular disease

c.The relationship between ETS exposure and nonmalignant resporatory diseases such asthma,bronchitis and emphysema, and

the effects of ETS on lung function and respiratory systems

c. Possible mechanisms of ETS damage to the cardiovascular system,such as platelet aggravation,increased COHb leading to oxygen depravation,or damage to endothelium

d.Effects of workplace smoking restrictions on the ETS exposure of nonsmokersand ETS-related health effects in nonsmokers

After ten years of no conclusive research and lack of studies that didn't eliminate the bias OSHA decided that the studies did not have substance and here is there present policy.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS)

Because the organic material in tobacco doesn't burn completely, cigarette smoke contains more than 4,700 chemical compounds. Although OSHA has no regulation that addresses tobacco smoke as a whole, 29 CFR 1910.1000 Air contaminants, limits employee exposure to several of the main chemical components found in tobacco smoke. In normal situations, exposures would not exceed these permissible exposure limits (PELs), and, as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, OSHA will not apply the General Duty Clause to ETS.
18:38 March 15, 2012 by OUIJA
A smoker's (poor) choice should not affect the health of others.

Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals including arsenic ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, benzene, and vinyl chloride. It is known to cause cancer, coronary heart disease, and respiratory problems. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Non smokers should not be subjected to this disgusting habit.

Wanting to ban smoking in public places isn't about taking away a smoker's rights. You will still have the right to smoke in your own space. The right to slowly and deliberately harm others was never yours to begin with.

I found a very interesting article at http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/9/1/98.full

Banning outdoor smoking is scientifically justifiable


"Simon Chapman has argued that smoking should not be banned in outdoor public venues such as hospital patios, beaches, and outdoor sporting areas, and this might also encompass building entrances, waiting lines for cinema tickets, and outdoor cafés. However, failure to ban smoking in such venues may expose non-smokers to levels of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) as high or higher than received in indoor spaces where smoking is unrestricted.

"The reality of atmospheric dispersion of ETS in outdoor settings is this: individual cigarettes are point sources of air pollution and, therefore, smoking in groups becomes an area source. Outdoor air pollutants from individual point sources are subject to plume rise if the temperature of the smoke plume is hotter than the surrounding air. However, if the plume has a small cross-section, as for a cigarette, it will rapidly cool and lose its upward momentum, and then will subside as the combustion particles and gases are heavier than air. Thus, in the case of no wind, the cigarette plume will rise to a certain height and then descend. In a case where a group of smokers are sitting in an outdoor cafe, on a hospital patio, or in stadium seats, their smoke will tend to saturate the local area with ETS. "

The article continues and it would be wise to those who will keep on polluting the air with their lousy smoking habits, to read it. Personally, I am sick that everytime I go to a hospital, there are "people" smoking at the entrance.

Smokers have their rights, but non-smokers, too. Is this too much to ask of smokers?
18:55 March 15, 2012 by HYBRED
Smoke em if ya got em.
20:26 March 15, 2012 by Svensksmith
I suppose they're gonna ban beans next.
20:32 March 15, 2012 by OUIJA

A bad perfume combined with the smell of some girl smoking in front of a hospital or her working place, would be not only bad, it would be tasteless. Besides, girls smoke so much in Sweden, that tooth pastes making their teeth whiter are selling like peanuts.

Going back to the subject of this "story", I hope the ban is approved and that me and many others,I can smell unpolluted air when going to a hospital or when trying to park our cars near the entrance of a shopping mall and smelling the smell of the cigarretes being smoked by a bunch of disrespecful youngsters and some adults, who, after smoking, throw the butt on the floor.
21:40 March 15, 2012 by Douglas Garner
@harley rider... spoken like a true employee of the tobacco industry! While SOME of these studies may be inconclusive, there is NO DOUBT that smoking is offensive to millions of persons and has detrimental effects upon thousands of others. There are no specific benefits to those that smoke beyond satisfying the need to suck on something.

On the other hand, it is a fact that my mother's subsequent husband got lung cancer and lost one lung... but due to the addictive nature of tobacco, neither he or my mother stopped smoking... until he lost half of his remaining lung due to lung cancer condemning him to 25 years of limited activity and being tethered to oxygen tanks. Not much of a life for an avid outdoorsman who led a healthy lifestyle with that one little DEADLY exception!
02:39 March 16, 2012 by Grokh
wont that just mean they will smoke indoors?

i mean there are some apartments ive seen when trying to rent that have the most putrid cigarrete stench inside them , i almost get athsmatic just by the first stairs.. and i dont have athsma...

smokers should have a bubble around them so they can suffocate themselves to death and leave people who like to breathe oxygen as opposite to monoxide alone
02:44 March 16, 2012 by BackpackerKev
Bloody hell, another mulling story. will they - wont they, find out in 15 years time.

I have travelled the world, lived in 6 counties and out of the multitude of western and eastern countries, Sweden has got to be one of the filthiest, FILTHIEST countries of them all..

To quote U2 - Through streets paved with gold, or in Sweden's case a soft cushion pavement covered in cigarette butts. its disgusting to a non smoker and i guess smokers themselves can be proud that they soften the ground we ALL have to walk on.

As a non smoker I don't want to have to get off the train, only to walk thru a thick smog of cigarette smoke covering every exit to the outside world, to fresh, was fresh sometime long ago, air and then stand at the next stop with 4-5 more people smoking upwind of me happily going about their day as I choke, cough and struggle to find my asthma inhaler as i try and combat the small problem of staying alive - id hate to call the SoS for them to tell me while im about to take my last breath- its ok, stop running and try to catch your breath.

I have no problem with other people smoking as long as it doesnt affect me.

Imagine your in a lift with a guy, he doesnt wash, greasy hair, sweaty hands, big huge sweat patches under his arms and you get this small waft of BO.

Personally I prefer this fat guy to the office business man who just nipped out for a fag and can make the whole lift stink in under 5 seconds. thats how bad many smokers are to us non smokers. If a smoker was in the lift with the sweaty guy, you would walk out and ask your mate, geeze he stinks. Thats you to us non smokers where we have to turn our head for near to fresh air so we can breath.

For people who argue there's so many more thing in the atmosphere we breath. Unfortunately we can go blame drivers and factories, but we live in a place where we just have to accept certain things

dilution is the solution to pollution

but it takes more than a while sometimes for cigarette smoke to dilute in the air and many places it can linger for a long time and only builds up to the point where what you breath out, you can almost breath straight back in again for the same effect.
08:10 March 16, 2012 by OUIJA
@Grokh #21

Where I live, you can see tens of butts at the entrance of the many buildings. Some times, the elevator smells awful and I spray some nice smell into it to make it less stenchy.

Smokers have not, -or do not want to- realize the danger they pose to non-smokers. In the name of "I do what I want to do", they do not give a hood to other people's rights.

They have the right to smoke? Yes. And we have the right to live some more years, or not?

I would like an answer to all of those in this thread that oppose the banning of smoking outdoors.
08:14 March 16, 2012 by Gjeebes
Ever had a wiff of the fumes when you fill up your car? Did you know that these vapours are carcinogenic? Ever eaten food out of a plastic container? There are toxins in many common everyday products! I am a smoker, and I do understand that non-smokers do not want to smell my smoke. I do not smoke indoors anywhere, and try to be considerate, even refraining when with non-smokers. But, as the government deems it is OK to sell me this product, I will smoke outdoors, pretty much where ever I wish. At least in the part of Sweden where I live, you can hardly find a cop on the road, let alone "on the beat", so good luck with the enforcement!
09:09 March 16, 2012 by OUIJA

"At least in the part of Sweden where I live, you can hardly find a cop on the road, let alone "on the beat", so good luck with the enforcement! "

Very smart reasoning. Yes, indeed.

If there is no police on the road, keep on driving at 160 kph, but do not kill people walking around.
09:13 March 16, 2012 by karex
I think that measures such as these are not the way to go. The problem is lack of consideration for others, and selfishness. This root cause permeates all of society in all areas, not just the specific question of smoking. To address this issue education is is a better way to go. Otherwise we will be bogged down with measures banning almost everything and then sooner or later we end up in a police state.
10:00 March 16, 2012 by Liquidmonkey
second hand smoking is harmful to others, period. its a fact.

so why do i have to be exposed to this when i enter or exit a building where smokers often selfishly stand because they are too lazy or inconsiderate (or both) to walk 20 meters away from the building.

sure, its just for a few seonds but you know what? i have a right to fresh clean air like everyone else and that should be replaced by cancer causing second hand smoke, especially when smokers can just take a walk to a secluded area.

u wanna smoke and harm yourself, fine, but do it in a way where others are not affected.
10:03 March 16, 2012 by RosemarysBaby80
So it's ok for a bunch of dirty old booze hounds to sit in the park, next to a childrens playgound and get completely ratted everyday but it's not ok for me to be on my OWN balcony and have a durry with my morning java.

Try and stop me, "oh sorry mr coppa, I don't speaka da svensky".
12:03 March 16, 2012 by shinnam
How about putting a deposit on cigarettebutts? If there were a 1SEK deposit on the butts, tax payers wouldn't have to pay to have them picked up. There would be enough that didn't get returned to fund more campagins against smoking.
15:11 March 16, 2012 by Lotus2035
This might come as a shock to smokers but inhaling smoke into your lungs is not natural.

You were fooled by the (relatively young) modern tobacco industry into smoking when you were a teenager and now you don't have the discipline to quit, but instead of just admitting that you were duped into a filthy habit by peer pressure and corporate advertising you harp on about rights and bitch about non-smokers as if they are some kind of wimps.
16:49 March 16, 2012 by OUIJA
My question:

If smokers have the right to smoke wherever they want, why are they so unconsiderates as to deny the non-smokers the right to live some more years of their lives?

Today I was in Gallerian. I say at least 10 teenagers (women) smoking like chimneys outside the entrance at Regeringsgatan. It did not matter that mothers with small children were coming in, old people with crutches and a poor disabled woman in one of those special cars designed for them.

The teenagers stood there for at least 13 minutes (I was observing them from the other side, in front of MacDonalds). Three of them smoke not one cigarrete, but two. When they finished with the pollution of the air, they all went inside. I followed them and they were making line to eat at the first konditori situated

right in front of the entrance.

There, they switched the cigarretes for the mobile and started shouting as they usually do.
22:42 March 16, 2012 by Radhus
Well, they can start by either removing or relocating those ashtray towers located right beside the doorways of entrances to shopping centres. Where I live I need to add about 10 minutes to my walk to the subway if I don't go through the centrum to avoid the smoked entrances. Since I'm a last-minute person I'd be late if I walked around the long way. So I walk through the centrum and cover my mouth when I go past the filthies and I even make it obvious of how disgusted I am.

The only places in Stockholm I've seen where it's "forbidden" to smoke in doorways (and where they incidently don't have ashtrays) are Stockholm University (main entrances at least) and Heron City. Although there's nobody present to shoo away smokers in the wrong place, at least it's a start and we need more of these places.

It's illegal to smoke certain substances because they "affect" you, well I say to even ban smoking cigarettes because even though you smokers can still drive and operate machinery, you are affecting others with secondhand smoke, as well as the economy because you are most likely to end up with lung cancer or emphysema and it's the taxpayer that will pay for your chemotherapy and oxygen tanks. There are many people out there who won't stand up on public transport for pregnant women or the elderly, but sick smokers will still be taken care of by the taxpayer.

As for smokers who think it's their right to light up and smoke where ever and whenever they like then maybe you should spend some time (even just a few hours) with someone with lung cancer or emphysema. Watch them gasp for air every time they take a breath. While you're at it, watch their loved ones watch them suffer and hoping the day is not coming anytime soon where they'll be without their spouse/parent/child and thinking that they wouldn't have to be in that situation because of a stupid, immature lifestyle choice.

Whose freedom exactly is at stake here?
08:57 March 17, 2012 by OUIJA
@Radhus #32

Very well described what we, the non-smokers, suffer by the lack of conscience of the smokers. But, with one little comment: At Heron City, there is already a sign saying more or less "do not smoke in front of the doors". I was two days ago to watch the film "War Horse", and they were smoking right in front of the door that leads you to the parking place.

So, I go back to my main question to the smokers:

Yes, you have the right to smoke, but don't we, the non-smokers, have the right to live some more years?

Think about this. What is more important to you: Your right to smoke? Or the lives fo some affected by you.

Think about it! Please, just think.
18:08 March 17, 2012 by willowsdad
"Why are smokers so inconsiderate?" Well, first we're told we can have no indoor space, we're to stand outside and freeze or get wet or whatever. Now--and I predicted this would happen--you're whinging that we can't be outdoors either! Oh, you poor little babies; you're exposed to smoke for all of 3-5 seconds and that's just killing you! Are you really such pathetic crybabies you think it's taking years off your lives? Maybe you don't deserve to live any extra years since you're intolerant bigots and cowards to boot.

Don't like smoking outdoors? Provide designated indoor areas.
23:15 March 17, 2012 by OUIJA
# 34

I can clearly see that your right to smoke is more important than the contribution you can make to save some people from being ill or perhaps to die. Good thinking, really good thinking.

And yes, I am one of the thousands of pathetic crybabies who would like to live some of the years we have left in live. Anything against this? I can hardly wait for your answer which will be in the line of "maybe you don't deserve to live any extra years since you're intolerant bigots and cowards to boot.2

Yes, we might be that, but we certainly do not wish you to die, even if you deserve it for they kind of person you seem to be.
13:51 March 18, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
Smoking & snus is an absolutely disgusting habit yet more & more young Swedes seem to be doing it. It makes me wanna gag when I have to walk thru a crowd of smokers simply to get into a building! I also hate the people who smoke at the bus stops and have that one last puff before getting onboard: the smoke always follows them inside!

I hope this ban goes into effect immediately! I like my air clean!
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