Switching up the game and tackling the tobacco industry
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A Non Smoking Generation, Stockholm, Sweden
Publication date: 2023-10-08
Corresponding author
Louise Johansson   

A Non Smoking Generation, Stockholm, Sweden
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement 2):A27
We got comfortable. As tobacco usage declined in Sweden, we took a breath, and the tobacco industry plotted a big comeback. They did not intend to accept their losses. Instead, they closely studied youth. And since 2016, the industry has used clever tactics to recruit a new generation.

With marketing strategies exploiting feminism, activism, environmental consciousness and ethics – the number of young tobacco users has once again skyrocketed. This leaves us wondering: will we be hunting the tobacco industry forever? In our oral presentation, we will cover four strategies implemented by the tobacco industry in Sweden to recruit youth: health-washing, fem-washing, green-washing, and ethics-washing. We aim to inspire the implementation of proactive and sustainable solutions when regulating all forms of tobacco.

If the tobacco industry is rapid and innovative - shouldn’t we be as well? It took Sweden five long years to somewhat regulate new nicotine products (such as white snus) after launching in 2016. This new law is both a victory and a loss; the legislators want to “figure out the exact health implications before regulating them”. Meanwhile, thousands of young people have and will enter a life-long nicotine addiction via the strategies mentioned.

Once again, lawmakers have fallen for the tobacco industry’s narrative of harm reduction, i.e., health-washing. The tobacco industry's interference extended the length of the process and influenced the regulations. And what’s even worse: we can already see the industry circumventing the new laws just one year after implementation.

To prevent the tobacco industry from repeating history over and over again, should we keep trying to predict the industry’s next move, or should we employ entirely new approaches? Perhaps by learning from history, we can take more long-term actions before it’s too late and become the movement that ends the tobacco epidemic – once and for all.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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