New White Paper Shows Safer Nicotine Alternatives Lead to Significant Reduction in Smoking Rates

The Tholos Foundation, in partnership with Japan-based Pacific Alliance Institute and Sweden-based consulting firm Scantech Strategy Advisors, today released a policy paper, Safer Nicotine Works, on how Sweden and Japan have successfully reduced smoking rates by introducing safer alternative nicotine products.   Safer Nicotine Works explores the impact of oral nicotine and heated tobacco products on smoking prevalence in countries such as Sweden and Japan, where smoking rates were once as high as 84% among men. This paper serves as a sequel to the earlier paper, Vaping Works, which looked at the experience of four innovative countries and found that countries that embraced vaping (United Kingdom, France, Canada, and New Zealand) saw decreases in smoking prevalence twice as fast as the global average.   The new findings were also striking in Japan, the introduction of heated tobacco products led to male smoking rates dropping below 30% for the first time ever and reversed stagnation in the fight against smoking. 


In Sweden, the country is on track to become officially ‘smoke-free’ within the year, with current smoking rates sitting just over the smoke-free threshold at 5.6%[1]. Recent decreases in smoking have been due to the growth of nicotine pouches, which were introduced in 2019.


Most notably, Tholos Foundation research found that in both countries, the switch to safer alternatives was driven by consumers themselves: the most important thing policymakers could do was ensure safer alternatives were available, viable alternatives. It is clear and supported by extensive data that safer nicotine plays a major role in smoking cessation. We observe that with safer nicotine products such as vaping, tobacco heated products, nicotine pouches, and snus, smoking incidence is decreasing several times faster.  

Commenting on the findings, Tholos Foundation Vice President Lorenzo Montanari said:   Safer nicotine is, quite literally, saving lives around the world. The experience of Sweden and Japan, just as in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and France, proves that when people have access to safer products, they choose them in huge numbers. We now have the tools we need to fight harmful high smoking rates: governments around the world must now support their citizens to make a better choice.  

The success of Sweden and Japan in reducing smoking rates demonstrates the effectiveness of adopting comprehensive approaches to tobacco control. Both countries have implemented regulatory measures to control the use of alternative nicotine products while ensuring public health and safety. Sweden and Japan offer valuable insights for other countries seeking to reduce smoking prevalence and promote smoke-free alternatives. By enabling access to safer alternative nicotine products and implementing appropriate regulations, countries can significantly improve public health outcomes and address the harmful effects of smoking.   A full link to the report can be found here.