Joseph Hart 18 May 2023


A new Ipsos opinion poll conducted on behalf of We Are Innovation has been released. The Ipsos poll spoke to 1000 Swedish ex-smokers. The work was carried out in 2023 and canvassed a wide range of demographics.

Titled “Swede’s views on the alternatives to cigarettes. Usage of alternative nicotine products among former cigarette smokers“, it offers some fascinating insights for regulators seeking to plot a path towards.

, New Ipsos Poll on Cigarette Alternatives in Sweden, The Daily Pouch

With Sweden’s cigarette prevalence rate plummeting to below 5%, it’s time for other countries to take note. The poll is full of insights that expose the shortcomings of existing health and smoking harm reduction approaches across the globe.

Let’s dig in.

Why is the Ipsos poll important?
Governments across Europe have implemented ambitious “smoke-free” targets. In the UK, the aim is for under 5% by 2030; in Europe, the goal is set for 2040. However, Sweden looks set to be “smoke-free” this year.

That is a fantastic achievement. Now, you might imagine that everyone is rushing to copy Sweden’s success. However, in the strange world of lawmaking and healthcare policy, things don’t always follow the most logical path.

Let’s explore the key findings of the Ipsos poll and view them through the lens of Sweden as a leading light in the battle against cigarettes and explore what other European countries can learn from the success of the Swedish Experience.

Ipsos poll: Key takeaways
While we recommend you read the poll, here are some of the most important takeaways.

1. Flavours and nicotine levels are important

A big part of government regulation of tobacco harm-reduction products has centred around limiting flavours and nicotine strength. However, when it comes to quitting, ex-smokers survey say that both are essential.

89% of ex-smokers said having preferred flavours were either somewhat or very important.

• A further 75% said nicotine levels were crucial to helping them stop smoking.

What governments can learn:
Regulators often suggest flavours target younger consumers. However, it’s clear that they are essential to smokers of different ages. Existing studies show that flavour bans would hurt smoking cessation and likely push ex-smokers back toward cigarettes. Plans to limit the choice of nicotine strength could do the same.

2. Nicotine pouches are essential for hitting “smoke-free” targets

• Ex-smokers aged over 50 in Sweden exhibit a strong preference for Snus at almost 80%.

• Ex-smokers aged 25-34 (59%) and 18-24 (78%) are opting for tobacco-free nicotine pouches.

What governments can learn:

The Netherlands has recently banned nicotine pouches. The harm-reduction product is already banned in Bavaria, with other German states set to follow. However, the poll shows that nicotine pouches are the clear preference for ex-smokers under the age of 35. Pouches represent an excellent opportunity to reduce smoking among an entire generation.

3, Primary motivations for using cigarette alternatives

At 63%, health concerns are the number one reason for people to try alternative cigarette products. However, there are other reasons too:

22% of ex-smokers cite social considerations

• Perhaps surprisingly, only 5% of ex-smokers said saving money was the most important

What governments can learn:

Many governments and regulators frame their arguments against alternative cigarette products poorly. Too often, the focus is on Big Tobacco tactics or anxiety about a youth vaping epidemic that isn’t supported by data.

The main reason people embrace alternative nicotine products is that they want to live healthier lives. Placing roadblocks between the path of citizens and their health is unconscionable.

4. Attitudes towards alternative nicotine products

The ex-smokers surveyed feel there is a significant gap in the perception of alternative nicotine products between the government, health bodies, and the public. 

24% of ex-smokers feel that the government is hostile toward alternative cigarette products.

• More worryingly, 45% think that health bodies are hostile towards alternative nicotine products.

What governments can learn:

In many ways, the politics of the 21st century have been about a growing disconnection between institutions and the people they are supposed to represent and help. Being so out of touch with ordinary citizens is a pathway towards irrelevance. 

In the words of Dr Anders Milton, “Sweden is now on track to become the EU’s first smoke-free country. If every EU country followed Sweden, around 3.5 million lives could be saved in the next decade.” 

That is what is at stake here. Governments and regulators are meant to protect and represent their citizens, not make bizarre anti-science policies that will lead to preventable deaths.

Final Thoughts

Sweden is set to dip below a 5% smoking prevalence rate. A recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of We Are Innovation provides excellent insights into the preferences of Swedish ex-smokers. There is a lot to learn for any administration that is prepared to listen. 

Read the survey here.