Health Mayors vision for smoke-free Copenhagen gets mixed reviews

Officials are looking to make the Danish capital a smoke-free city within the next 13 years, but many are saying such a feat is unrealistic.

The city’s deputy health mayor (Socialistisk Folkeparti) Ninna Thomsen said this week that Copenhagen could follow in the footsteps of Aarhus Council, but that rather than banning smoking altogether, quitting could be done on a more voluntary basis.

Thomsen said in an interview with the Politiken newspaper, “I think it works going in with a more positive outlook where we don’t persecute smokers in Copenhagen. We need to build a bridge and give smokers the opportunity to stop rather than force them to. We know that many smokers actually want to quit.”

She went on to say, “I hope it will become a trend to become a smoke-free company and that it becomes a badge of honour to have signed the charter. It’s on the same line as businesses that want to promote social responsibility and ecology.”

However, despite Thomsen stopping short of suggesting an outright ban on smoking as done previously in Aarhus, critics still say that the idea is unrealistic and unfair.

Hans Henrik Storm of cancer prevention group Kræftens Bekæmpels said in an interview with Danish television station TV2 News, “It sounds quite over-exaggerated. With the amount of smokers we have today and the numbers quitting, it will take at least another 20 years before smoking is eradicated. And to be completely smoke-free, we would have to build a wall around the country. But I think we can reduce it to ten percent or so.”