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Finland embarks on plan that will ban all smoking

Finland plans to completely abolish smoking, starting with a ban on displaying tobacco products and smoking in cars carrying minors.

Finnish State Secretary Ilkka Oksala said the new laws were the start of a move to get rid of tobacco “once and for all."

Although several European countries now ban smoking in public buildings, including restaurants and pubs, Finland would be the first country to adopt a total ban.

New Zealand’s Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) director Ben Youdan said the same approach was needed here.

“We need to set a clear deadline to get rid of smoking and remind ourselves this is an urgent health priority. The Maori affairs Select Committee inquiry into tobacco is our chance to call for that deadline,” he said.

Submissions to the committee are due by January 29, 2010, and the committee will then report back to Parliament.

He said New Zealand needed to set its sights on making the country tobacco free by 2020.

“The tobacco industry needs to be held to account and it looks like Finland intends to do exactly that.”