A total of 2.75 million packs of smoking cessation products were sold for slightly more than 524 million kronor ($79.39 million), representing a 9 percent increase in the value of products sold compared to 2009.
The figures compiled by news agency TT demonstrate that nicotine replacement therapy sales are rapidly increasing in Sweden. The sales of the goods have become more widespread than ever and are more accessible to consumers.
However, those who use the products and are trying to quit cigarettes and snus risk falling into a new addiction.
Margaretha Haglund, a tobacco policy expert who used to be at the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (Statens folkhälsoinstitut) now at the think tank Tobacco Facts, pointed out that the products are now clearly commercialised.
“They can be purchased in more places and accordingly, there are also more people who are buying them,” she said.
Haglund added that there is a risk that the products are not seen the same way as before as aids to smoking cessation.
“Now, when one looks at the marketing, there are more materials one can resort to when he or she cannot or is not allowed to smoke,” she pointed out.
Whether the sales increase represents an actual decline in smoking is unclear. Smoking in general is steadily decreasing, but the proportion of Swedes who call themselves former smokers has remained fairly constant in recent years, according to agency statistics.
A negative result of the sales is that people can also become addicted to the products.
Margaretha Stålnacke, a tobacco cessation counselor for the national smoking cessation hotline, said that it receives calls from people who have become addicted to nicotine cessation remedies.
“It happens quite frequently. The recommended period of use of the products is three months. A number of those who contact us have used the products for about a year or even several years,” she said.
Those who want to break their dependence on nicotine replacement therapies receive the same advice the smoking cessation hotline gives to those who want to quit smoking or using snuff.
“One must first decide, much like when one wants to quit tobacco, then change, downsize and replace,” said Stålnacke.