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January 4th, 2016:

Norway under pressure to ban sale of tobacco to adults

Medics say access to tobacco is ‘not a basic human right’

Norway’s biggest medical organisation wants to ban the sale of cigarettes to adults.

In a drive towards a smoke-free society by 2035, the Norwegian Medical Association (NMA) is pressing the government to back its proposal for a ban on tobacco sales to citizens born after the year 2000.

Marit Hermansen, the president of the NMA, told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that access to cigarettes was not a basic human right.

“We have long had the policy of phasing out smoking by 2035. This is a measure to achieve this goal. We want a tobacco-free generation,” she said, according to The Local.

“It shouldn’t be forbidden to smoke, but we want young people to not get started with tobacco.”

They hope the proposed legislation will mean future generations are unable to buy tobacco in Norway when they reach 18 years old, which is the current age limit. Given the choice of 2000, the law would technically come in to until 2018.

“The [health] minister has said that the main objective is to hinder young people from beginning to smoke,” Ms Hermansen told Aftenposten.

“That means that when the new generations come of age, they won’t be able to buy tobacco in Norway.”

The emphasis will be on denying access to the substances, rather than criminalising use, she added according to The Nordic Page.

In 2013, about 32 per cent of the Norwegian population were smokers – a steady decline from 36 per cent in 2008.

Among young people, seven per cent had reported that they smoked daily, the Nordic Page reported.

Yet despite the NMA’s hopes, health spokespeople for the Conservative, Labour, Centre and Christian Democrats parties in the country told Aftenposten the idea was not currently feasible.

In the UK, meanwhile, eight percent of 15-year-olds smoked regularly in 2014 – a significant decline compared to the 20 percent who were smoking eight years earlier.