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Survey: For young Finns, smoking's not cool but many think snus is OK

The number of teens in Finland who smoke has seen a steady decline over recent years. A new survey finds that younger people are increasingly concerned about the dangers of tobacco and that overall, teens just don't think smoking is cool anymore.

Image: AOP

More than two dozen people between the ages of 13-17 from the cities of Espoo, Kouvola and Oulu talked to researchers from about their attitudes towards tobacco.

The findings of the survey, which was carried out by the Cancer Society of Finland and the Finnish Youth Research Society, indicated that a shift in attitude about smoking has taken place for teenagers in Finland.

Smoking is increasingly no longer considered tough or cool by most of the youths they spoke to, but actually dumb, according to the researchers.

Mikko Piispa, one of the study's researchers, said that health issues are important to the youths, saying the trend marks a shift from that of previous generations of younger people in Finland.

Youths who identified themselves as smokers said that if one of their peers decided to quit smoking it wouldn't mean the end of their friendship.

Respondents also told researchers that they did not think smoking tobacco made people cooler or better-liked by their peers.

According to physician Eeva Ollila from the Cancer Society, adults also play an important role in forming youths' attitudes towards smoking.

Snus, vaping viewed differently

While cigarettes are increasingly getting the cold shoulder from younger people in Finland, many think that other tobacco products like the smokeless tobacco product snus and e-cigarettes are safer.

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A can of snus with dosing device.

Overall, the teens told researchers they do not think snus is as dangerous as smoking. In particular, male respondents said they think using snus is a good idea because it does not impair performance in sports.

They associated the use of smokeless tobacco with ice hockey players, a group which is known for its use of snus.

The teenage boys also said that another benefit of snus is that it is easier to hide from, for example, teachers in school.

One aspect that appears to be quelling the popularity of snus is the negative attitudes which girls said they have about the smokeless tobacco, the researchers said.

The sale of snus is banned in Finland and health authorities have said the oral tobacco is a carcinogen. But since it remains legal in neighbouring Sweden and easily imported, snus is still quite popular in Finland, across all age groups.