These days only approximately 7% of adults in Iceland smoke cigarettes, reports Fréttablaðið. This is the second lowest rate in Europe, with only Swedes smoking less than Icelanders.
The article states that smoking in Iceland has undergone a great deal of change in recent decades. In 1968, every second adult in Iceland smoked, and only 30 years ago, one in three deaths could be traced to smoking.
According to Karl Andersen, a chief physician of cardiology at Landspítalinn, Icelanders should be proud of the results they have achieved in prevention of smoking. He says it has resulted in improved public health.
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. Heart attacks have dropped by 80% in the last 30 years. About a quarter of this reduction is said to be linked to reduced smoking.
Iceland has been at the forefront of various control measures considering smoking. Iceland was the first country to ban smoking in international flights and it was among the first countries banning the advertisement of tobacco products.
The average age of smokers has risen to around fifty years. Although many people have stopped smoking, the reason why the rate has dropped this fast is that young people do not smoke. In upper secondary schools, only approximately 1 to 2 percent of the students smoke.
The project manager of tobacco control at the Directorate of Health, Hafsteinn Viðar Jensson, is glad about the change. “We are soon reaching a smoke-free generation,” he says.
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