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by Euro Reporter
2008-08-16 09:29:01
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It’s no smoking

One year later and the uproar over the introduction of a smoking ban in Denmark have subsided, with more people wanting to avoid a cigarette. The latest figures published by Statistics Denmark show that the average use of cigarettes per head of population has dropped and that the tobacco industry has been hit in the pocket as well.

Since the introduction of the smoking ban last year, cigarette sales have dropped by three percent, which translates to about 200 million fewer cigarettes. The Cancer Society's latest report shows that in 2007, 40 percent of smokers wanted to quit. This is almost double the number from 2005. Those who want to quit may find the process easier if the regulations banning smoking inside all workplaces were tightened, as recently suggested by the Ministry of Health's prevention commission.

Last month the commission announced that it would like to see a total ban on smoking in sports clubs and schools. It also wants the government to levy a higher tax on cigarettes and only make them available for purchase in certain outlets, such as pharmacies. A poll by Zapera for MetroXpress newspaper shows that three out of four Danes are pleased with the way the smoking ban is working, and that 34 percent of them would like to see smoking regulations tightened.

Fifty-four percent of the 1020 respondents want to see increased taxes on cigarettes to help improve public health. 'It's clear that we need a helping hand from the state to make the healthy choice. This is confirmed by a new study that shows 72 percent of Danes think the authorities should take a greater responsibility for public health,' Inge Haunstrup Clemmensen of the Cancer Society said.

Interesting to see similar reports from all European countries.

***********************************

A new government?

Calling the move 'historic', the Social Democrats welcomed a new initiative by the Social People's Party supporting budget cuts in the public sector - a move that could lead the Social Liberals to back the opposition and help form a majority in an upcoming election. The Socialist People's Party (SF) has traditionally opposed any cuts for public services, but Ole Sohn, the party's group chairman, said an inevitable recession in the coming years made the move necessary.

'We're currently working on a 2015 plan based on budget cuts due to the nation being on its way into an economic slump,' Sohn told Politiken newspaper, adding he welcomed any cooperation with the Social Liberals. 'SF, the Social Democrats and the Social Liberals have joined together before on many economic proposals, just as we've coordinated the efforts for the budget negotiations,' said Sohn. 'I would point out that now it's us and the Social Liberals that have the strictest proposals for the budget.'

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, leader of the Social Democrats, hailed the cooperation between her party and SF, the two largest opposition parties.Villy Søvndal, SF's party leader, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper that it was now up to the Social Liberals to make a move towards consolidating the opposition against the Liberal-Conservative government.

'They have to begin by not making ultimatums about individual points and saying that if we don't bow to their demands on one thing then they won't agree to the other 13 points,' said Søvndal. 'That's politically irresponsible.' Social Liberal's leader, Margrethe Vestager, said the new budget stance by SF was 'positive', but she criticized the two parties' position on immigration and support of the 24-year rule. She maintained that her party had no intentions yet of declaring a united front against the government. 'There's good intentions in the cooperation,' she told Politiken. 'But when I sat and watched the press conference I couldn't help thinking it was more about integration between SF and the Social Democrats instead of an integration of people.'

The most recent poll from Green's Analysis Institute shows support for the Social Democrats has increased to give them 24 percent of the vote, while SF has slumped from 20 percent to around 17 percent. If the Social Liberals gave their support to the opposition, the group would have 47 percent of the vote, not including the traditional support of the Red-Green Alliance, which currently does not have enough public support to meet the minimum 2 percent to give them any parliamentary seats.


    
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