Norway is being urged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ban smoking even in private homes and gardens. The state Ministry of Health has said it will evaluate such a ban, but not even the country’s own medical association supports it.
Norway banned smoking in most all public places several years ago, and heavily taxes all tobacco products, but newspaper Aftenposten reported this week that the WHO remains concerned about the public’s exposure to passive smoking in the country.
The WHO criticized Norway’s anti-tobacco efforts and recommended that Norwegian authorities intensify them by launching a new new anti-smoking campaign in the media, offering stop-smoking courses and even evaluating a ban on smoking in private homes and gardens.
Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen said she will evaluate a ban on smoking at home and in private cars, for example, as a means of ensuring children’s rights to a smoke-free environment.
That’s set off protests in several sectors and now even the local medical association (Legeforeningen) says it won’t support any ban on smoking in private homes and gardens.
Dr Hege Gjessing of the association said the group shares the WHO’s concerns of children’s exposure to passive smoke,, but she thinks it’s too “dramatic” to impose a prohibition on smoking at home.
“We know far too little on what type of consequences such a ban would have, and it would lead to too much interference in peoples’ private lives,” Gjessing told Aftenposten.
Nor could she understand how such a ban would be carried out or monitored.
“Shall there be a system of surprise visits by the authorities, or would fines be based on neighbours’ reports?” Gjessing mused. “The fight against passive smoking must continue, but in other ways.”