No description has been generated for this video.
Sweden is about to become the first smoke-free country in the world. A lot of Swedes don't even know that we're the first country in the world becoming smoke-free. I was shocked to hear that we are down to 5% of the population smoking. We have the lowest smoking prevalence in the European Union. We also have the lowest lung cancer. We have two smoke-free generations by now. Lowest oral cancer. Below 5% of daily smoking. Lowest number in Europe. The lowest cardiovascular diseases. We are gold standard. We are the best in the world. So what is the problem with the rest of the world? We have something that they don't have. We have snus you don't.
We have snus. Snus, it's Swedish, it's cultural, it's fun. We've swapped from cigarettes to snus and it worked fine. 5. 6% smoke and the rest use snus. How can we consume just the same amount of tobacco and nicotine and having the lowest cancer rates and mortality rates? People claim that all that is dangerous, everything containing nicotine is dangerous. They haven't done their homework. Swedish people use these products and they don't smoke and they don't get sick. If Sweden is doing it, other countries can do it too. Snus came around in Sweden 250 years ago. Sweden cultivated tobacco like all the other European countries because tobacco was expensive.
Once upon a time they did grow tobacco around here where I live, which is in really cold areas. It wasn't of good enough quality to make cigarettes. You get ocotoxins, you get poisons in it, it molds. Summers are short and the winters are harsh. The quality was not as good as in Cuba. So we did what we do with fish and with vegetables. Basically we pickled it. We let it to moist with water and add salt and create another kind of smokeless tobacco, which you put under your lip. I love the smell but I realize it's not for everybody. And if you're not born in Sweden you might think this is disgusting.
You had to like squeeze it into a little portion and then you put it under your lip. Your fingers get brown and dirty and it's a bit smelly of tobacco. And then it would like start to come down over your teeth. It didn't look nice. The old habit of using snus survived among workers where smoking was impractical. For example a farmer, a logger, a miner, seamen. I would say this is the first tobacco harm reduction product on the planet. And that was the predominant form of tobacco use in Sweden until 1920. In the beginning of the 20th century the cigarette came. And this was old fashioned, rural, dirty, uncivilized.
Whereas the cigarette was urban, modern, you were sitting in an office and smoking a cigarette, you were part of the future. Easier, less messy, women could use it in more progressive societies at the time. And you had a massive boom of rolled cigarettes smoking all around the world, in Sweden as well. The snus consumption in Sweden actually peaked before 1920 and then went downwards for more than 50 years. One has to start actually with the two world wars. Sweden was not part of any of these two wars. And what happens during the war is of course that soldiers, they get tobacco, they get cigarettes and they get free of charge.
And it gets cultured there where almost every man smokes. Sweden was also not invaded during World War II. And the Nazis were against tobacco. For instance in Norway it was an act of defiance to smoke a cigarette in public. And after World War II in Germany it was also a sign of being a democrat. So when you smoked in public you showed everybody else that you were not a Nazi. Which resulted in a higher smoking prevalence in at least western Germany. So Sweden never got the same numbers as other European countries. But more than half of the male population still smoked 50 years ago.
We peaked at around 45-50% of men smoking in the end of the 60s. While in some countries it was up to 75. Then two things happened. The scientific evidence that cigarettes are closely linked to lung cancer. So first the doctor quit smoking and then the doctor's patient quit smoking. And then the portions, like the small bags came. And that was a game changer. The loose noose was invented 250 years ago. Nothing happened really on the innovation side of the product until 1967. Professor Körten Säll who was research manager for the Swedish Tobacco Company came up with the idea to place loose noose in an empty tea bag.
Roll it up and place it under his lip. The problem with tobacco running around in the mouth was salt. If you're lecturing as a professor you can't stand up there lecturing by having stuff in your mouth freely. So you better put it in some sort of pack. And they found out that the tea bags were available for free at the tobacco company. So I cut it into pieces and then I put two bags from one tea bag. And it worked very well apparently. The same product but in a small paper bag to put it under the lip. Much more convenient, much less messy.
That made it possible for a lot of smokers to consider actually changing and doing the snooze instead of the cigarettes. One of the guys, the director, caught the idea of producing it on a very commercial scale. And they succeeded as you realize. There's reports on Sweden on stuff that we smoke of very little drug to other countries. Basically the Swedish male population switched from smoking to snooze. The little tea bag is now under one fifth of the Swedish population's lips instead of a cigarette. It has done a great job. From my point of view that means that I saved the life of the product. I saved the life of very many people who pre-loved anyway.
Amazing innovation that is still used and has helped reducing smoking in Sweden and Norway and many other countries. Then we have the student radicalism during the 70s. And the students they wanted to look like workers. Rather than smoking they took up the use of snooze. Swedish blue collar men had always continued using snooze. Those 10% that were blue collar using in 1970 spread the word that smoking is bad, snooze is a much better option and people intuitively men knew that this was correct. Because everybody knows people dying from smoking. Nobody knows anybody even getting sick from snooze. It must have been a fairly clever understanding among the everyday Swedes.
That this must be a little bit less harmful than smoking. Because the government or any other organization has never really come out in the public saying that snooze is less harmful. To the contrary the government and its sponsored non-governmental organizations have said that all tobacco products are equally harmful. Which is absolutely not the truth. When I started smoking as a kid smoking wasn't considered being something dangerous. I even remember since I wasn't allowed to smoke as a kid we used to get chocolate cigarettes. I mean when I say everybody smoked it's of course it wasn't like that but a lot of people smoked. The senior doctors started the day at 7.
30 with a cigarette looking at x-ray pictures. In those days you could smoke in the airplane, you could smoke in the cab on the way to the airport. They were smoking in television as well. They would sit and smoke. You know the interviewer and the guests. You could smoke everywhere. In the 80s we started getting financial markets becoming very very important. Smoking bans were in place in Sweden as one of the first countries in the world. So in boiler rooms and financial action markets you couldn't smoke. These white people, white collar white people started using snus to carry their nicotine dependence while they were working in high stress environments.
In 1988 I am a heavy smoker already. I'm a young hairdresser. I was in the posh salon in Stockholm. You had ashtrays at all the seats and the clients were smoking. My boss was smoking together with his clients. We had this small room for the staff. It was like a fog in there because we were smoking. And then there was a few that didn't smoke and my god I feel so sorry for them today. I was the only smoker in the band. That was really part of my identity and I know the others would also refer to me as the smoker. Then we had a big hit 90 with Crucified. Then it exploded.
I was still working as a hairdresser. I never quit. So there was times when I went from the salon to the airport or from the airport to the salon. When all this happens you kind of get an overdose of yourself. And being a hairdresser and doing somebody's hair I would shift the focus from me to somebody else. So it would give me a break from myself which was really important. It was like crazy stressful. And then we have the EU snooze ban. It was in 1992 and Sweden was not a member of the European Union so no one protested.
It was banned because there was a ban in the United Kingdom who then was a member of the European Union. A product is either allowed in all countries or banned in all countries. The compromise here was well let's impose the ban because no other member countries at the time objected. When Sweden was negotiating to enter the European Union there was the danger of us losing the snooze. From the trade unions there was the message that are you going to associate us with the European Union and we cannot have the snooze. We are going to vote no. Solid no. We said we need to keep our snooze otherwise we won't become members.
So they just had to allow us to keep on using snooze. Very briefly in the time before the actual referendum that bit was changed in the accession documentation. And finally the outcome was 47-53 percent. So it was relatively close but we have an exemption for snooze. If Sweden not had the exception for snooze I think the no side would have won. It was that simple. At the same time there was another change made saying that Sweden may never put an oral tobacco product on the market inside the Union.
And that's something that we really didn't double check properly which kind of leads to the situation where we have where we're stopped from actively promoting in Europe if we wanted to. It seems very very strange to uphold a ban on a product that health agency, FDA and US have said is a less harmful tobacco product and need to have some advantages in advertising and promotion. And they use it a lot in Norway too because they're not part of the European Union. So they're also allowed to use snooze and they use lots of snooze and less smoking.
And I think they smuggle it into Finland if I understand it right because they're not allowed to sell snooze as officially as we do but they want to get hold of their nicotine from snooze as well as we are allowed to here. There is a narrative going in the international and European public health community with regards to nicotine and tobacco that the industry has to cease existing. The history is also working here. The behavior of the tobacco industry for example when all the CEOs in front of FDA lied and declared that nicotine was not dependence producing. That was a lie and that is having an effect on us today.
You don't want to be coned by the tobacco industry because you know that cigarette companies during the 20th century lied about the harmfulness of smoking cigarettes. They lie about the clear connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer. I think each of you believe nicotine is not addictive. We just would like to have this for the record. You do not become friends with such an industry. They could have done 20 trials and one by chance showed something that was good and that was the trial that was published and the other 19 trials that didn't really show any good things for the companies they were just thrown away.
Not even that is possible to do anymore because we have to tell the scientific colleagues about what kind of trials I will do before I do it so they can go back and check so what happened with that trial? Did you get the results you wanted or did you get some bad results that's why you didn't publish it? What has happened is of course that the industry has fundamentally changed. It's really the other way around today. If you take a look at the tools in the toolbox I mean cherry picking, scientific papers, go for the messenger not for the facts, everything like that.
That's what the TC community is using today instead of recognizing the obvious facts, the public health data that we have. So I can realize that politicians need to really know things in order to feel personally safe that they are not being coned by the industry. To tear something down can go very fast but to build up and in this case build up trust takes much longer time I'm afraid. A lot of my friends used to say when I see you smoking I would like to smoke it looks so enjoyable. No I really enjoy smoking, I love smoking and when you love something it's difficult to quit of course.
I was really trying and I was struggling and it was really hard. Every time I was without the cigarettes it was really really hard. Not only was I overeating it was really difficult with the concentration, I kind of got depressed as well. Just the thought of never having a cigarette again in my life. Some people can quit smoking cold turkey no problems they just quit because they decide to do that. Others have been trying for years or decades to quit and they are being told that they are miserable people because they don't have the strength of power or will strength to quit.
I remember a lady, a very very proper lady that was a professor at the university and she was stopping smoking and then when she comes on the sidewalk and she sees, what happened? Big fag is laying there. But I cannot take that, if someone would see me taking a fag from the street. Then she realized that she was having a dress so if she was kneeling down no one would see what she did inside the dress. So she picked up the fag, went into a closet, a toilet for women and then made sure she got some matches and smoking and smoking and smoking and when telling the body is feeling very very very much ashamed.
So that's what you can do when you are really dependent on the cigarette. I tried to quit smoking the first time after being a smoker for about 30 years. It lasted for 4 months. I gained too much weight so I went back to the cigarette and then I tried again a couple of years later with the help of medication. I came down to one cigarette a day and I thought wow this is great, I can do this. One cigarette a day is enough for me. And then the medication ended and after one week I was back to my old consumption. I met thousands and thousands of patients.
I met perhaps three people who got more than 80 years old and who were smokers and very reasonably healthy as 80 year olds. A lot of them like the smoke because they like the kick that it gives them. At the same time I think that many of them if they found an alternative that gives them the same kind of experience they would choose a less harmful experience. I've tried quitting with the help of medication. I've tried quitting with the help of snus and I tried quitting with the help of vaping. So snus didn't work for me because I'm a nicotine, I'm a cigarette romantiker. You know holding the cigarette, seeing the smoke.
Cigarettes have had for a long time a sort of cool aesthetic which snus never had. The Swedish male population switched from smoking to using snus. Whereas the women in Sweden still continued to smoke. So we are the only country in the world that actually has higher smoking in women than in men. We have higher lung cancer in women than in men. It used to be loose, you put it under your lips and very few women used it. Very few women. A lot of women for a long time and a lot of youth have chosen smoking instead because the flavour is just not very pleasant.
How sexy is using snus compared to how sexy it is emulating Greta Garbo with a cigarette and a cigarette holder. I had all these cliché things about smoking. It was sexy, it was cool. I loved black and white old movies and in those they were smoking all the time. James Dean, John Crawford, all the film noir, they were all smoking all the time. I continued smoking for a while and then in Tel Aviv I started to roll and on the way to the shop to buy tobacco was a newly opened vape shop and they had a sign, if you would like to quit, come inside. And I thought what the heck.
So I went in and I came out with the machine and the juices and also a strategy. He was really cool, the guy, and he said like listen it's not easy, it might be difficult the first three days but there is one simple rule you have to stick to and it is the moment you want to have a cigarette don't think, just take up your little vaping machine and vape. And vape, just vape. It takes a little bit longer for the nicotine to hit you than a cigarette so no, you might just vape. And so I did and it worked.
And it was pretty amazing to, for the first time in my life, not being disgusting in the mouth and feeling kind of free because the vape didn't smell bad so I felt like I could smoke anywhere. It was less expensive of course and more tasty. One of the instances where vaping is vastly superior to snus use because it has the tactile hand to mouth aroma, visibility, olfactory, all of those aspects that are important to enjoyment of a product. I just did one mistake. I lowered my nicotine because I wanted to be free from nicotine.
The problem is my mother was diagnosed with cancer and wants a smoker, always a smoker and the moment you get an opportunity to go back to the cigarette you take it. Especially when you're that low on, I was that solo on nicotine so I needed the nicotine and I went back to the cigarettes. Nicotine is for very many people connected with cigarettes and smoking. And there are still too many people who think that it's nicotine that is the dangerous thing in a cigarette. It's not. Nicotine gives you dependency, a dependence which is fairly strong. I mean, you crave, you want to have the nicotine if you are a real smoker.
It has lots of effect on the human mind and that's why people like it and it's addictive which is of course annoying but it's not really dangerous with nicotine. It's a pesticide, I find that interesting. The plant produces nicotine to be protected against insects. That's why the tobacco plant produces the nicotine. And there are lots of pesticides that have no effect whatsoever on humans. That's why we can use pesticides out in the garden because they don't affect us. We are completely different from insects.
If you believe or anybody out there believe nicotine causes cancer, I ask you please Google the question, does nicotine in itself cause cancer? And you will find the answer from the World Health Organization, no it does not. You will find the answer from the Food and Drug Administration, FDA in the America. It will say nicotine doesn't cause cancer. Nicotine certainly creates a dependency but it doesn't cause cancer. Smoking cigarettes causes cancer with all the things that you get in your smoke.
If you burn a product you produce a number of very harmful products by the side beyond getting the nicotine and therefore the great advantage with snips is that you don't burn the product but you just consume the nicotine by chewing it. The lungs just can't handle the smoke for very many years. All of them eventually get some kind of chronic lung disease and they have coughing and poorer and poorer functioning lungs. That's so apparent. And in some way, which is not actually known in that great detail, also the particles in the cigarettes that ends up in the lungs causes inflammation and so on that drives cardiovascular disease.
The nicotine is probably even good for some people but the smoke definitely is dangerous. It causes lung disease, it ages the skin that's very apparent. You look older after a while using cigarettes on a regular basis and somehow that also links to increase the risk for cardiac and cardiovascular disease. The other products, the e-cigarettes or the heat not burn or snus or tobacco parties are much less harmful because you don't get all the tar that you would get from cigarettes. Let's face it, when people die in a fire it's not from the fire, it's from the smoke. And here you are inhaling smoke. You smoke for the nicotine but you die from the tar.
So in a way the nicotine is the bad guy because it's the one making you inhale the smoke. But then there is nowadays ways to get the nicotine without the smoke. You can do the snus and you can do the vaping. If the rest of the European Union were to use snus and nicotine in the same way as Sweden, there are 255,000 per year fewer that would die in the European Union. I mean it's a lot of people. It's 10 million people during those three decades. That's quite a lot and it's hard to admit that you have been responsible for that.
They just made a survey among EU members of parliament and it turns out that 25 or 30% of the members of parliament thought e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches were just as dangerous as cigarettes. This means they are not aware or they might believe nicotine is causing cancer and death. I've been a doctor for more than three decades now treating patients all the time and I've seen so many times that people stop the smoke and they start to use snus instead. And there is nothing wrong with that from a metabolic point of view that I can detect as a doctor.
So I've just fed up with all the people that say, oh it's not good, you still use snus, you're addicted and so on, that's still dangerous and I always always ask myself, so where is the science to back up that statement? And I haven't found any. Unfortunately, as it were, for the people that are against harm reduction, it doesn't cause cancer. There are some reports that are actually saying that nicotine in some cases are actually doing good for you. It's been a tradition among Swedish football players a long time ago. Ralf Edström, who scored against West Germany in the 1974 World Cup, he was very fond of this.
And actually there is one publication now that's very recently been done in trained archers. So they had placebo nicotine or correct nicotine in the bloodstream during shooting bow. And actually it was shown that compared to placebo, they hit higher scores with nicotine in the bloodstream. So it makes perfect sense if you're a professional footballer that it might have an enhancing effect on your ability to score. Can we in any way tolerate nicotine as we do with caffeine? But you get addicted to coffee as well and that's still allowed. I gave you coffee, you didn't say no. Caffeine is also addictive. And interestingly enough, it has similar effects to those on nicotine.
You get peppier, more focused and all that. Isn't that correct? That's what people say when they smoke a cigarette. Or use snus. And as we do in some parts of the world with cannabis today. It's very strange. I mean, you can go to the Netherlands, you can go to a coffee shop and you can smoke Mariana. But you're not allowed to put one of those under your lip because the sign said no tobacco allowed. And that's the most rebellious thing you can do as a Swede. Go to Amsterdam and put a snus under your lip in a coffee shop.
I did a study five years ago into the random sample of Swedes asking about dependence to tobacco and coffee. And found that the average tobacco user is somewhat more dependent than the average caffeine user. But how many have a very strong dependence to these two drugs in the society? The absolute number of caffeine users was 70-75 percent while smoking was around 6 percent. So in Sweden, dependence to caffeine is more of a problem than dependence to nicotine. And that we don't pay much attention or we don't care. If smoking cigarettes has a risk of 100 percent. You find snus-y cigarettes and nicotine pouches down in the very, very, very lower end of the scale.
Comparable to nicotine replacement products which are advertised freely in every nation's TV. Nicotine patches, nicotine chewing gum, etc. The product that the healthcare has doesn't give people the kick that they need. And that they usually get from their cigarettes or whatever they use. Usually when you get addicted to any drug, it's very important how fast it acts. If you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine reaches your brain within 10 to 20 seconds. It's extremely fast. It's as fast as if you would give it intravenously. Actually, there have been some trials suggesting that if you start vaping instead from the first time you use nicotine. In either smoke, by either smoking or vaping.
There's less risk that you get addicted if you use the vaping method. Probably because it doesn't have any effect on your brain until about, say, 10 minutes rather than 10 seconds. That has changed consumption. And that has given more people the possibility to have something else than cigarettes to give them the kick. Further and further, parts of the Swedish society have more or less completely stopped smoking in favor of using another product. That perhaps is not a health product, but it doesn't kill you. It doesn't cause cancer. It is very marginal from a public health perspective and really ought not to be an issue at all.
Especially considering the benefits that can be realized. There is no plain packaging in Sweden. In our neighboring country, Norway. All cans of Snus look like this. They adopted the plain pack color Pantone 448C, which is on cigarette packs in Australia, France, I don't know, and in Norway. But the boxes are also this kind of brown green. When they evaluated this in Norway, I think it turned out that Snus sales went up and smoking continued to go down. It was the same with cigarette packages. They look, they have this boring color. This is a Norwegian Snus box. Different Swedish governments have done about the same thing as other European governments have done.
We have made smoking more difficult. There are fewer places where you can smoke today than five years ago. In a restaurant, you could smoke on the outdoor. It's not allowed anymore. Smoking has diminished due to government regulations, which I think is good. And at the same time, those products were available. So it was quite convenient to not light up a cigarette and instead take one of the poaches. I think the Swedish government could be proud and show the world the figures that we have. Will they do it? I hope so.
We are not bragging about where we are because most involved in this topic, they have not been instrumental in achieving this situation and this outcome of only five percent smoking. It is a completely consumer led and partly industry led revolution in nicotine use. Despite the government resistance. Sweden becoming smoke free, it's not the credit of any left or right government. It's not to the credit of tobacco control or regulations. It's about the people themselves who found something they enjoy, which is less harmful than smoking. It actually happened at least to a big part from the tobacco industry's product development. And therefore, there is no interest in promoting this to the world.
It started in the end of 2017. New nicotine alliance in the UK asked for my help if I would like to go to the European Court of Justice. There was going to be a snus trial hearing. The NNA wanted the European Union to allow the sale of snus. And we were sitting there at the trial. Loads of evidence, thousands of pages of evidence of snus, how this is a lower risk than smoking. There was one woman, one EU lawyer, she said, snus has nothing to do at all with the fact that Sweden has stopped smoking. It has to do with paternity leave, which is, of course, pardon my French, total bullshit.
Because 70 percent of the paternity leave is used by Swedish women. Basically, that in most jurisdictions is considered perjury, possibly even there. Another EU lawyer said, oh, snus has nothing to do with the fact that Sweden has quit smoking. It has to do with Swedish men's healthy living style. Women were upset. I was totally upset. At that court proceeding, I was there. The Norwegian general advocate in that proceeding said, also, without batting an eyelash, that snus use is just as addictive as heroin or cocaine. No consideration for scientific facts for the Swedish experience. It was total politics. The European Court of Justice, seven prominent judges, men and women, decided to keep the snus ban.
OK, if the existence of snus is not a proof, how come that the two countries in Europe, Sweden and Norway, where you have snus, also have the lowest smoking prevalence? If it's not snus, there has to be another explanation. We had information campaigns, we had smoking bans, we had taxes. A pack of cigarettes in Sweden is the cheapest in Scandinavia. Is it about information and smoking bans? Yeah, it could be. Yeah, it could be. But that doesn't explain why Sweden is the only country in the European Union where women smoke more than men.
And I'm very curious to see if there's any other example in the world where men are better to adapt to health instructions or regulations or information than women. I haven't seen another single example of that. So the equation becomes unsolvable unless you put in snus in the equation. Why ban it in the European Union? I think it's just ridiculous. It's a typical example of good harm reduction if you swap from cigarettes to using snus. So why don't you allow that in the whole European Union? I can't really figure it out. The European Union and the FDA, they have access to the same data.
And one authority says that this is a safer product than cigarettes and gives it an advantage in terms of advertising, etc. And the other agency bans a product. And in 2015-16 came a new invention. Truly innovative. And it's the nicotine pouch. The first pouch was actually my idea. That was in the year 2000. So I formed a company called Two Stop, then changed to Niko Novum. And today I think most of the major, if not all of the major tobacco companies they have their brands of nicotine pouches. Suddenly more women quit smoking in Sweden than previously. Females are switching to it more and more, especially young females. Nowadays with the nicotine pouch it's a different story.
And more women realize today that they can get nicotine without smoking. But I've noticed among my friends a lot of them started, moved over from smoking to actually using nicotine pouches instead. That's a very common story that I hear from my friends and people my age. It's the development. Commercialism. They made pouches more elongated and thin so you don't even easily spot that people have snus under the lip anymore. And it's very common to use white snus among young women. You have those mini ones and it doesn't show that you have one in your mouth. You can even have two.
Two recent reports on nicotine pouches place nicotine pouches on the same level of low risk as nicotine replacement products like nicotine gum or nicotine patches. They're also being banned in some member countries which shows that the idea of the internal market does not always function. Well it makes me very sad because it's something that can help a lot of people. And I mean I'm also worried because the tobacco snus, we have an exception on that one. It doesn't include the nicotine pouches, the tobacco-free alternative which means that the EU could potentially ban nicotine pouches for us. And that will be detrimental for especially the youth in Sweden and the females in Sweden which choose the tobacco-free alternative.
What you do then is just condemning 100 million daily smokers in EU to continue smoking. But as long as important people still do not know the difference between nicotine as a substance that nicotine users like and the hazards connected with smoking the struggle will be more difficult. There are definitely those that want to ban every nicotine product straight. If I want to put them into a group that just loves to make regulations and for people to have fun. It's difficult for regulators to know when to stop. They often want to overregulate. The reason that people don't want to see this, which is obvious, which is in front of their eyes, is that you create a dependency.
They don't want children or adults either to be dependent upon be that snus or be that vaping or be that heat not burn. If one or two adolescents is starting with an electronic cigarette, with a nicotine pouch, that weighs much more than if 200 smokers stop smoking. I tried cigarettes before I tried nicotine pouches. My friend introduced me to nicotine pouches instead. And ever since then, I've seen more of a switch within the youth that instead of people at parties going out to smoke, they're using nicotine pouches instead. Also because it's not a social thing. Because if you want to go out and smoke, you're going to be the only one. That's also created an incentive to not smoke.
It's of course a problem when young ones start with a drug and maybe it will continue for the rest of their lives also in some cases. It's also important that the smokers can give up smoking. I think that youth abroad is very. . . They are relying on smoking because there is no better alternative. And that's the cool thing to do and it's also the social thing to do. But here in Sweden, we have the alternative, so we don't do that. We stay inside and we use our nicotine pouches instead and protect our health. If snus in general would be a gateway to smoking, Sweden would have a very high smoking prevalence then.
We have a lot of snus, so it falls by itself that at least in Sweden, it has not been a gateway. Looking at Norway now, you see the Norwegian experience. Smoking among 16 to 26 year old women in Norway is now down to 1%. That's fantastic. And how come? Well, they start using snus instead of smoking. We have in Sweden a proof of concept when citizens are allowed to choose by themselves. It took until last year. I came to a point where I felt like I really, really had to quit the cigarettes because it was really difficult to breathe. I had to take. . . I couldn't run anymore.
I had to take a break in the uphill, for example. It was really horrible. So I decided to. . . I came to a point where it wasn't that hard. I used actually snus together with the vape in the beginning to really get the nicotine. And after three days, I quit the snus. And also after three days, the benefits were immediate. I could suddenly walk uphill without having that break. And I couldn't really run, but I could walk faster. So I felt the difference immediately. And then also when I've done my COPG test to see the levels, after six months, I took a spirometric. . .
I don't know what you call it in English, when you breathe, to see how your capacity of breathing and your lung capacity is. And one of the levels was actually improved by 10%, which, according to the doctor, is not happening because COPG just stays. It doesn't get better. For example, if you quit smoking, it just doesn't get worse. And mine got actually a little bit better. This time around, when I started to vape, I decided not to lower my nicotine, but to keep it actually high. I don't crave nicotine the same way. I still work as a head-dresser a couple of days a week. And there is some. . .
Sometimes you're busy with the client and you can't leave the client for one and a half hour. That used to be tough for me. Nowadays, it's no problem. So I don't have the same craving for the nicotine. I can go for two hours sometimes without smoking, and it's not a problem. If I would like to stop, it would probably be a lot easier than when I stop from smoking. What is the role of the Swedish government in reducing the risk of smoking? I think there is a duty for the government, for the scientists, for politicians, to reduce risks where there is a possibility to do so.
And you can just learn from the Swedish way to becoming a smoke-free country, more or less. It should be exported as sound economic and health-related policy. We have something called Smörgåsbord in Sweden. Have you heard of that? It's like a buffet. You have a hundred dishes to choose from. So you find the combination of dishes that suits you. That's how freedom works. When we have freedom to choose, we want to make decisions that are good for ourselves. And also serve as an example for the rest of the world, not least the European Union. There are billions of smokers in the world.
How can they allow them to just die? They had to choose between quit or die. It can't be so. That is cruel. That is naive. It's like in the UK. There, the medical profession and the health authorities have said that if people cannot stop smoking with the help that healthcare can give, you should talk to them about e-cigarettes and vaping. I quit smoking and I started to vape. The stupid thing is that the doctors are not allowed to say that it is better for you to vape than smoke cigarettes.
And why not help these people to actually quit, even if it's with some alternative product? If we can help them to get away from the cigarettes, I think we should do it. And I think we can. The Swedish example shows that it works. There is a greater understanding of the fact that there are certain forms of nicotine that doesn't cause you cancer, that doesn't kill you. We have to accept the fact that people will use that. We should just see that nicotine is here to stay and it's great. And we should find less harmful ways for people to use it. We will see a change.
It hasn't really arrived yet, but we will see a change. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works.
The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. The Swedish example shows that it works. .