Danish health organizations criticize new prevention agreement as inadequate for protecting youth
16.11.2023 - Three leading Danish health organizations have expressed strong disappointment in the newly unveiled prevention agreement aimed at protecting children and young people from the harms of tobacco, alcohol, and nicotine. The agreement, presented by a majority of parties in the Folketing (Danish Parliament), has been criticized for its lack of effective measures, particularly in the crucial areas of tobacco and alcohol control.
Lægeforeningen (The Danish Medical Association), represented by its chairperson, Camilla Rathcke, labeled the agreement as "embarrassingly weak," particularly lamenting the missed opportunity to implement significant measures against tobacco and alcohol, which are leading causes of illness and death in Denmark. Rathcke highlighted that the agreement lacks substantial action on two critical points: raising cigarette prices to DKK 100 per pack and introducing an 18-year age limit for all alcohol purchases, alongside higher prices. These shortcomings, Rathcke argued, fail to adequately protect children and young people, as evidenced by the 15,920 annual tobacco-related deaths and 2,465 alcohol-related fatalities in Denmark.
Hjerteforeningen (The Danish Heart Foundation), through its managing director Anne Kaltoft, echoed similar sentiments. While acknowledging some minor steps in the right direction, Kaltoft emphasized the plan's lack of ambition, particularly in its failure to significantly raise tobacco prices, a measure deemed most effective in reducing smoking rates. The Foundation expressed disappointment over the government's reluctance to increase tobacco prices to at least DKK 100 per pack, despite smoking-related costs to the healthcare system exceeding DKK 13 billion annually.
Kræftens Bekæmpelse (The Danish Cancer Society), represented by Jesper Fisker, also voiced dissatisfaction with the agreement. Fisker pointed out the disregard for increasing cigarette prices, a measure supported by 62% of the population in a recent Epinion poll. He criticized the prioritization of short-term fiscal considerations over public health and the continued reliance on tobacco revenues. While acknowledging some positive aspects of the agreement, such as increased prices on nicotine products and enhanced checks on underage sales of alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine, Fisker remained critical of the overall approach, especially regarding alcohol policy.
The criticism from these prominent health organizations underlines a significant gap between the political decisions and the health sector's expectations. The organizations stress the need for more robust measures to protect young Danes from the health risks associated with tobacco and alcohol, reflecting a growing concern over public health priorities in the country.