Objectives: Finland boldly legislated the end of tobacco use in its 2010 Tobacco Act, and subsequently expanded the goal in 2016 to eradicate other nicotine-containing products. This study explored stakeholders' perceptions about the strengths, barriers, solutions and rationale for Finland's comprehensive but conventional strategy to achieve its nicotine-free goal.
Design: Study participants were selected based on expertise in policy or practice of tobacco control (n=32). Semi-structured interviews, conducted in 2017 and 2018, covered topics ranging from consensus among stakeholders to Finland's ranking on the 2016 Tobacco Control Scale. The framework method was chosen for analysing interview transcripts.
Results: A perceived strength of Tobacco-Free Finland 2030 was the consensus and cooperation among members of the tobacco control community. The objective of becoming a nicotine- versus smoke-free society had almost unanimous support, challenged by a small minority who argued for greater discussion of harm reduction approaches. The need for maintaining legitimacy and historical successes in tobacco control were reasons for using a conventional strategy. Barriers to achieving the endgame goal included insufficient funding and over-reliance on non-governmental organisations, political/legal constraints, impact of institutional practices on tobacco disparities, ambivalence about the role of mass media and lack of prioritising smoking cessation.
Conclusions: Stakeholders' broad confidence in reaching the goal of Finland's tobacco endgame suggests that future policy initiatives will reflect the current, conventional strategy. If the Finnish government chooses to continue this approach, then it should designate separate funds for Tobacco-Free Finland 2030 and implement structural changes that will facilitate tobacco control initiatives.
Keywords: cessation; disparities; end game; global health; media.
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