Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Swedish Cigarettes are Killing Me

Smoking Kills. Every time you buy a pack of cigarettes in Sweden you are reminded of this pretty obvious fact. The warning takes up nearly half of the packaging. It’s incredible. And hilarious. And scary. But most of all, it doesn’t seem to have any effect what-so-ever. I’m not what you would describe as a smoker; in fact, it grosses me out quite a bit what with the stink and the yellow teeth and nasty finger tips and all. But hey, whatever floats your boat. I’m in the minority here though.

It seems everyone smokes in this country. Or at least in Stockholm. Young parents. Old ladies. Middle-aged men. Young girls. The 12 year old gang of boys running around outside the apartment. In their defense they have gotten real good at blowing smoke circles. But it’s hard not to walk through town without taking a face-full of the blue stuff. And, because I hold my breath like a four year old little kid exposed to it every time I walk by a smoker in the process of, it gets exhausting.

But here’s what I don’t understand. In a country that prides itself on a healthy lifestyle, on taking care of your body and the environment, how they smoke with such abandon remains a mystery. Tobacco is not an easy crop on the soil. That’s not good for the environment. Just ask Al. Tobacco, nicotine, smoke, tar are not easy on your body. That’s not good for you. But here they are walking around Stockholm sucking on cigarettes.

What’s even more interesting is the indoor smoking ban. Clearly, an effort is being made. No smoking inside. Huge warning labels on the packaging. Commercials. Literature. Campaigns. But it doesn’t seem to be making a dent. Cigarettes (the Brits call them fags. Silly Brits.) are addicting.

I should know. I am a former consumer of cigarettes. I used to go through a couple of packs a week. Nothing serious. But, then there was an incident. I lit up and it happened. My cigarette melted all over me. Yup. Chocolate. I was 10. They were delicious. But clearly not good for my wellbeing. I was a mess. But I quit cold-turkey. Haven’t had a chocolate cigarette in 13 years and 147 days.

Not a day goes by that I don’t give myself a quick pat on the back. I’m a better person for quitting. And you can quit too. Because I’m tired of having to hold my breath every time I walk by your stinky ass.

22 comments:

  1. Sweden actually was the only country in Europe to reach the World Health Organizations' goal of less than 20% daily smoking prevalence :P

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  2. Yeah, Johan, not only does more people smoke in USA (I know, fairly obvious...) but a bigger share of the American people. So, I don't know if it's thanks to all those things you, hairy swede, mentioned but, obviously something has worked because they're are not a lot of people smoking here in Sweden. At least not compared to many other countries.

    I don't see why it's scary that there's a warning text on the cigarette-packages, after all, cigarettes are deadly. What would have scared me would have been if the government had pushed this issue but the companies opposed this and were so powerful that they succeeded in their opposition and would have no warning texts. It wouldn't surprise me if this was the case, though, in USA. In many ways the American companies are more powerful than the American government.

    Robban

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  3. Having lived in both countries for some time, some people would say that I have a lot of experince in terms of age, it appears that there are more Swedes smoking in terms of % than in the US. It may be that more people are smoking on the streets and since Swedes walk a lot more than Americans the observation may be warped. How can they afford it?

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  4. According to my experience they smoke a hell of a lot more in Paris and Rome than in Stockholm. I loved P. and R. but the smoking was spoiling some of the fun I had over there. And it's not that bad when people smoke outside, inside it's much worse, making me almost throw up...

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  5. @johan - very cool. where does stockholm rank? again, never lived in a big city so maybe Stockholm actually has very few smokers compared to other large capitals.

    @robban - Im just not sure a bigger percentage of people smoke in the US than in Sweden. I have absolutely nothing to back that up except for observations. But once again, never lived in a big city and the places I have lived in the US didn't have too many smokers.

    And the warning is scary becxause being killed by smoking is scary. not because they would actually put it there.

    And heres an interesting article about the coming election which brings up the issue of government power vs business power from thelocal.se (http://www.thelocal.se/9881/20080205/)

    @anonymous - excellent points.

    @smek this - you're right. I was in Rome a little while backa nd it was insane. and gross.

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  6. That's weird, I live in stockholm and I almost never see people smoking. Could be I'm blind to it since I'm so used to it, will have to make observations ;)

    Used to be a much bigger problem like 10 years ago. Felt like EVERYONE smoked back then, especially young people. I think party smoking has decreased also since they imposed the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.

    Great blog by the way, pretty interesting to hear an "outsiders" view.

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  7. I wonder if it is something you get used to depending on where you're from. As I mentioned, I'm not used to seeing people smoking hardly at all. So maybe it just seems that there are a lot here in Stockholm. Or maybe there really are. I'm leaning towards there being a lot. A nice European stereotype that Americans have about Europeans in general is that they smoke a whole hell of a lot.

    I think you're right about the indoor ban leading to a decrease in smoking. Or at least to annoying smoking that puts me in the way of the blue smoke. I'd be curious though to see what it did to snus sales as the ban has really started to take hold.

    Glad you're enjoying the blog! Thanks for the comment.

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  8. I think your correct about europeans smoking more than americans. Swedes are amongst those who smoke the least in europe though, from what I've heard. Tobacco use is about average. As you guessed, because of snus :)

    Because so many males use Snus smoking is actually more common in women.

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  9. I live in the US and off hand cannot think of one of my friends/acquaintances that smoke.

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  10. yup Europeans definitely smoke more... it's been decided right here.

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  11. Maybe, but I don't think Swedes do, and as you said it's an American stereotype. It's just bunching a whole lot of different people together. Maybe in some countries in Europe people do smoke more but to say that whole Europe does is just bullshit. As the first commenter said Sweden was the first country to reach WHO's goal about something...read it up0 there...

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  12. @anonymous - there are a lot of swedish smokers. even if it is the 20% daily smokers as mentioned above. that's one out of every five who is sucking down a cigarette every day. that's a lot.

    and bunching people together is the beauty of stereotyping. which for the msot part is done in jest on this blog. in fact Ive written a few posts about stereotyping.

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  13. Yeah, but I'm sure there are a lot of smokers in USA as well and for all you know it could be even more than in Sweden so saying that it most surely isn't without having some kind of proof of it is kind a bigoted...

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  14. like he said he says a lot in "jest" on the blog. don't be so defensive anonymous!

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  15. i don't know what it is but i still think when i have been in europe i seem to notice more smokers than in US. Maybe it is just the bigger cities, or maybe that in so many places now in US it is banned so just don't see people smoking so much. Maybe they are all home smoking in thier houses.

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  16. @anonymous (the first one) - I am a bigot. and apparently you ar eunable to read sarcasm. and also can't figure out what jest means.

    @anonymous (the second one) - thank you.

    @anonymous (the third one) - I also have noticed a lot more smokers in Europe, regardless of which city or country I am in, than I have in the US. Maybe they are smoking at home in the US. But I know very few people who smoke in America. While I know quite a few that do here.

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  17. Yes Mattias, that's true. Sadly, snus is now also becoming more common among women. Disgusting, innit? I haven't dared to make out with a girl for years... I think I'll have to go to Tallinn like everybody else...

    Robban

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  18. Oh Tallinn, where women canbe kissed without fear of a sneak snus attack. Apparently.

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  19. If less than 20% of Swedes smoke you seem to be wrong about us smoking more than Americans.

    "Prevalence of current smoking in 2005 was highest among Native American Indians/Alaska Natives (32.0%), intermediate among non-Hispanic whites (21.9%), and non-Hispanic blacks (21.5%), and lowest among Hispanics (16.2%) and Asians and Pacific Islanders (13.3%).13"

    http://www.lungusa.org/site/c.dvLUK9O0E/b.39853/k.5D05/Smoking_101_Fact_Sheet.htm

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  20. good work on the stats. I had no idea what the percentage was and actually said so. and most of these comments were made sarcastically based solely on the stereotype americans have of europeans smoking a lot.

    I must say though that a better stat would have been the one right above that takes into account all American adults:

    "In 2005, an estimated 45.1 million, or 21.0 percent of, adults were current smokers. The annual prevalence of smoking has declined 40 percent between 1965 and 1990, but has been unchanged virtually thereafter."

    rather than the stat that breaks it down into different groups.

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  21. Once again you write about stuff you have no idea about. Sweden has on the world's lowest smokers per capita index.

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  22. once again you make comments and it seems like you completely failed to read the previous comments. and grasp sarcasm. its tough. I know.

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