Sweden is set to become “smoke-free” as smoking prevalence drops below five percent in the country.

The Swedish approach could save 3.5 million lives in the next decade if other EU countries adopt similar measures, according to the report’s authors.

This achievement is detailed in a report titled “The Swedish Experience: A Roadmap for a Smoke-free Society,” which was presented at an international research seminar in Stockholm.

The report details Sweden’s groundbreaking strategy, which combines tobacco control methods with harm minimization strategies.

It’s about combining tobacco control with harm minimization,” explained Delon Human, one of the report’s authors.

“There are no risk-free tobacco products, but e-cigarettes, for example, are 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes. It is far better for a smoker to switch from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes or nicotine pouches than to continue smoking.”

According to Anders Milton, one of the report’s authors, if all other EU countries did as Sweden did, 3.5 million lives could be saved in the coming decade in the EU alone.

The report also describes how the percentage of smokers in Sweden has dropped from 15 percent to 5.6 percent of the population in 15 years, putting it on track to achieve smoke-free status 17 years ahead of the EU’s 2040 target.

“Sweden has a very successful tobacco strategy that should be exported,” said Karl Fagerstrom, who authored the report.

 “It would be of enormous benefit to the world if more countries did as Sweden did with measures that reduce supply and demand while having differentiated tax rates that give smokers financial incentives to switch from cigarettes to less harmful alternatives.”

The report was commissioned by Health Diplomats, an international organisation working to improve access to healthcare, encourage innovation, and use harm reduction to minimize the negative impact of alcohol, food, nicotine, and drugs.

For countries looking to replicate the Swedish experience, the report recommends recognising smoke-free products as less harmful and implementing policy decisions that make smoke-free alternatives more accessible than cigarettes.

The Swedish model combines recommendations in the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, including reducing the supply and demand of tobacco and banning smoking in certain places, but it adds an important element: accepting smoke-free products as less harmful alternatives.

The benefits of Sweden’s strategy are enormous, with the country having the lowest percentage of tobacco-related diseases in the EU and a 41 percent lower incidence of cancer than other European countries.

“Sweden has a very successful tobacco strategy that should be exported,” said Karl Fagerström, who also authored the report.