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Friday's papers: Youth snus use up, Laestadian business secrets, Saara Aalto prepares for Eurovision

Dailies this Friday look at the use of snus tobacco among teens, a tell-all book about Laestadians in the construction industry and Saara Aalto's coming Eurovision set.

Snus is addictive and unhealthy, and the tobacco product of choice among many Finnish teens. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Drinking and cigarette-smoking are losing popularity among Finnish teenagers, whereas use of the moist powder tobacco product snus is up, writes Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Pouches of the product are placed under the upper lip where the nicotine is absorbed through the gums. High school students use snus recreationally for its mild stimulant effects, even though possession of tobacco products is illegal for under 18-year-olds.

A general school survey conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare finds that while smoking cigarettes is becoming rarer among teens, daily snus use has been on the rise for the past decade, the HS piece relates. Snus causes oral and pharyngeal cancer, and contains addictive nicotine.

While male polytechnic school students have for years been the fastest-growing group of teenage users of the tobacco, snus is now also marketed to and slightly more commonly used by girls as well.

"The general feeling among female secondary school students has long been that snus is repulsive. Most still seem to take this view, but girls are increasingly curious to give the product a try," says youth researcher Mikko Piispa, who published a study last year based on interviews with teenagers aged 13-17.

Piispa says in HS that the main reasons behind the increase in teen use are the easy availability and broad range of snus products, as well as the fact that the stylish little cases – designed to resemble the quality of high-end cosmetics packaging – are much cheaper than cigarettes.

The kids themselves consider the practice completely routine.

"The school's substance abuse awareness tactic is old-fashioned and full of urban legends," one girl from a Helsinki high school says in the article. "Teens are able to look up information on their own."

Revivalist nepotism

Regional paper Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) carries a piece on a new book that details the business dealings of Laestadians, members of the conservative Lutheran revival movement. Author Aini Linjakumpu, a researcher at the University of Lapland, finds in her research that networks of Laestadian employees and employers alike form commercially significant bonds based on religious fraternity and often literal kinship.

But friendship and trust aren't the only drivers of the Laestadian work culture, the book says; adherent employers often "tie" other Laestadians to their jobs by selling them expensive cars, houses or tools on credit. When a firm has a round of cuts, those Laestadian workers beholden to the boss are the ones who stick around.

Additionally, says Linjakumpu in AL, believers are forced in some construction companies to work overtime in the name of Christian ethics and the glory of God, or are discouraged from applying for pay raises for fear of being shamed as greedy. One non-Laestadian worker describes such a workplace as being "run by fear".

Linjakumpu says in the paper that construction businesses, consultant firms and real estate are some of the top industries occupied by Laestadians in small towns in Lapland as well as bigger cities such as Oulu and Kemi in the north and Tampere and Jyväskylä further south.

Linjakumpu says that many of the beliefs and practices in Laestadian-controlled companies are two-edged; getting rich is not considered a fault, for instance.

Eurovision hope

One of Finland's most beloved contemporary pop stars, singer Saara Aalto will perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon on Saturday as the seventeenth contestant, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) writes.

"The running order was proposed by Christer Björkman, Contest Producer from the production team of Host Broadcaster RTP, and approved by the EBU's Executive Supervisor and the Chairman of the Reference Group, the governing body of the contest on behalf of all 43 participating broadcasters," the contest's website details.

Out of a total of 26 countries in the running for the title of Eurovision champion state, placing at number 17 is thought by commentators to be a positive spot – close enough to the end of the running order to be more easily remembered than early slots.

Finland's Aalto made it to the finals among the top ten on Tuesday with her song Monsters.