Dutch policy plans not sufficient to reach smoking reduction targets

Dutch policy plans not sufficient to reach smoking reduction targets

Frontier analysis, 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, some of which have begun to be implemented, 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 7.8% in 2040, almost 3 percentage points above the government’s target, which is expected to be reached only by 2045.

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 20% in 2020. On an annual basis, smoking rates have declined by 0.57 percentage points per year on average. However, achieving the 5% target by 2040 will require an acceleration in the rate of prevalence reduction to 0.75 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 430,000 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 much more quickly between 2012 and 2019 as between 1993 and 2011. A material part of this decline is because of a switch to e-cigarettes: around 1.9 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 2035, five years ahead of target. This would imply 900,000  fewer smokers in 2035 than expected with the current policy plan.

Frontier works regularly for the private and public sectors on matters relating to public health and wider public policy.

For more information, please contact media@frontier-economics.com or call +44 (0) 20 7031 7000

Download the full report in English below. To read the report in Dutch, please click here.


Working towards a Smoke-free Netherlands - May 2021 update - English