Holy Smoke, No More? Tobacco
Control in Denmark
Foreigners visiting Denmark often find the country’s tobacco-control policies appallingly lax. When they arrive at Copenhagen International Airport, they find the designated smoking areas to be a joke, separated from nonsmoking areas by nothing but (impure) air; they find it virtually impossible to find a smoke-free section even in Denmark’s most upscale French restaurant, let alone cafés or bars; and they learn with disbelief that nonsmoking employees in Danish private workplaces are not even protected from smoke during lunch. Many Danish health policymakers share this gloomy view that Danish tobacco-control policies lag behind those of most “civilized” countries.
It is debatable, however, whether Danish tobacco-control policies, in general, lag behind policies in comparable countries. It may appear so when one focuses exclusively on Denmark’s weak restrictions on public smoking, but the country’s tobacco-control policymakers use all of the available policy instruments in efforts to reduce smoking: carrot (economic incentives), stick (regulations), and sermon (information). If the whole spectrum of policy instruments is considered, Denmark does not fare badly. In fact, the country has for decades been a front-runner in tobacco-control policies, and it still has some of the world’s toughest policies. For instance, in the late 1920s, when Denmark dramatically increased its excise duty on tobacco products (a duty first imposed in 1912), the country became a world leader in tobacco taxation. Moreover, it remains a leader today; its taxes on tobacco are the third highest in the European Union (EU). Also