A new Frontier study, published today, finds that the ambition of the Dutch government to reduce adult smoking prevalence to below 5% by 2040 will not be achieved under current policy plans.
What are the current policy plans?
The National Prevention Agreement, signed in November 2018, set out a new package of policies to target lifestyle factors affecting public health, including obesity, problematic alcohol use, and smoking. The proposed anti-smoking policies include introducing plain packaging, bans on product display at point of purchase and advertising bans, and extending smoking bans. Frontier’s forecast, based on an extrapolation of long-run trends in adult smoking prevalence, plus the expected additional prevalence reduction because of these policies, predicts adult smoking prevalence in Netherlands to decline to 8% in 2040, 3 percentage points above the government’s target, which is expected to be reached only by 2046.
Key findings from the study
The study, funded by Philip Morris Benelux and prepared independently by Frontier, shows that around 37% of adults (16 and over) smoked in 1990, compared with 22% in 2018. On an annual basis, smoking rates have declined by 0.54 percentage points per year on average. However, achieving the 5% target by 2040 will require an acceleration in the rate of prevalence reduction to 0.77 percentage points per year. Frontier analysis shows that the policy package proposed by the Dutch government will be insufficient to achieve this rate of reduction, leading to an additional 460,000 smokers above the 5% target in 2040. Other changes will be needed to achieve the target, such as a rapid increase in the number of smokers switching to smoke-free alternatives.
The opportunity to meet the Government’s target faster: the experience in England
In England, smoking prevalence declined twice as fast between 2012 and 2017 as between 1993 and 2011. A material part of this decline is because of a switch to e-cigarettes: around 1.7 million former smokers have converted fully to e-cigarettes in Great Britain. If the more rapid decline in smoking prevalence seen in England in recent years were to be duplicated and sustained in the Netherlands, the ambition of reducing adult smoking prevalence to below 5% could be met as soon as 2032, eight years ahead of target. This would imply 1.1 million fewer smokers in 2032 than expected with the current policy plan.
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Download the full report in English below. Click here to download the Dutch version.