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Sweden moves to ban smoking in public places

The Swedish government wants to ban smoking at outdoor restaurants, train platforms, playgrounds and other public places.

Sweden moves to ban smoking in public places
File photo of a smoker. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Health Minister Annika Strandhäll announced the centre-left coalition government's new legislative proposal to stub out smoking in certain public places at a press conference at Stockholm Central Station on Friday.

“We need to de-normalize the use of tobacco in the public space,” Strandhäll told reporters.

“I think it is reasonable that you should not have to be exposed to tobacco smoke in these kinds of places, such as platforms. Ninety percent of the population do not smoke,” she said.

The government is expected to put a formal proposal to parliament in February, reports news agency TT.

Strandhäll said it would include a proposal to introduce rules stating that Sweden's moist powder tobacco 'snus' may only be sold in packs of at least 20 portions to discourage non-users from buying the product.

INTERVIEWS: Stockholmers react to proposed smoking ban


Health Minister Annika Strandhäll presenting the proposal on Friday. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

The bid follows a lengthy government inquiry, released in 2016 but commissioned by the previous centre-right government in 2014, which suggested limiting the number of areas in which people are allowed to smoke. 

separate report from Sweden's Public Health Agency in 2014 pointed to evidence suggesting that passive smoking is responsible for up to ten cases of lung cancer in the country each year as well as around 400 cases of cardiovascular disease.

Repeated polls have indicated that most Swedes back the idea of an extended smoking ban, with young people especially in favour of the plan.

However critics argue that a more extensive ban on smoking is a step too far in a country which already prohibits lighting up inside a wide range of places including bars, restaurants and shopping centres.

The Local took to the streets of Stockholm on Friday to find out what people thought. Read their comments here.

HEALTH

Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

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