I’ve annoyed quite a few friends by constantly nagging about their smoking habit and by absolutely forbidding smoking inside the house. It comes naturally to me, it seems absurd anyone would choose to smoke these days.
One of the reasons for my behaviour is my Finnishness – people don’t smoke that much in Finland anymore. Among my close Finnish friends there’s not a single smoker – and maybe only one or two that do it when they’re drunk.
On the other hand, this spring I noticed most of my foreign friends were at least casual smokers. My dear colleagues at work had to constantly put up with my very informative messages on how smoking kills.
So I checked a few statistics. About 19% of Finns smoke, most of them older men. These days only about 14% of people aged 14 to 24 smoke. Finns (among with Norway and Sweden) smoke the least out of European countries.
We even have the world’s strictest tobacco law. Cigarettes are hidden away in shops, there are no cigarette-vending machines and under 18-year-olds aren’t allowed to carry cigarettes let alone buy them. Naturally you can’t smoke in any public place, including outdoor spaces where there are children around.
Most Finns who smoke are embarrassed by it. Buying cigarettes is expensive and smoking them is a strenuous task (finding a place where you can smoke). It’s no surprise really that fewer and fewer people smoke these days.
I remember when I was 14 and a good friend of mine told me she wanted to try smoking and then tried to bum a cigarette from another friend. I told her it’s a bad idea and also told the smoker-friend not to give her any. It worked that day and I don’t think that friend ever took up smoking. But you can tell I was a bit of a preacher back then already.