Last call for public cigarettes?

Amongst lawsuits from tobacco giant Philip Morris against hiding cigarettes in shops, suggestions to extend a veto, and a governmental anti-smoking campaign aimed at stubbing out the habit completely, come unconfirmed reports of stricter public smoking laws.

The government has announced it suggests granting 19 million kroner towards a mass media campaign against smoking for reasons of public health.

Burning cigarette

Burning cigarette

“This is the first time ever so much money has been used on an [anti-] tobacco campaign in Norway, but it is completely necessary,” said Minister of Health and Care Services Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen.

According to the government, almost 7,000 people die because of tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

“From the government’s point of view, we are concerned we contribute towards fewest possible young people starting smoking, at the same time as carrying on work towards encouraging those who already smoke to stop”, she continued, “the aim is to limit children’s access to tobacco products [too], make more arenas smoke-free, and strengthen protection against passive smoking.”

A Ministry of Health and Care Services press spokesperson refused to comment to The Foreigner for now, and suggests “waiting until the autumn.”

Meanwhile, Dagsavisen has been standing downwind of the cloud of smoke emanating from the same public building, and found several people actively campaigning for the new proposals. It alleges one of them is Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

The paper says anonymous internal sources tell them the government proposes banning smoking in outside serving areas, with an additional smoke-free buffer zone around these. Suggestions also include a veto on smoking in healthcare and other institutions, and entrances to public buildings.

No pre-university and healthcare staff will be allowed to smoke whilst at work, smoking rooms will be forbidden, and sales of 10-packs should be banned.

Amongst claims by one smoking Labour Party (Ap) member that “smokers will be harassed”, another tells Dagsavisen, “I’ll be joining a demonstration march against this. I want to keep this freedom.”

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