Tobacco policy

The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health directs and develops Finland’s tobacco policy, the aim of which is ending the use of tobacco and other nicotine products. The goal has been confirmed in the Finnish Tobacco Act.

Tobacco policy refers to measures that

  • prevent the initiation of the use of tobacco and related products and the emergence of nicotine addiction  
  • promote the cessation of the use of tobacco and related products 
  • protect the population from exposure to tobacco smoke

Smoking is the single greatest health hazard and a key reason for health gaps between different population groups. Tobacco products are not normal consumer goods. They cause and maintain difficult addiction and contain substances that are toxic to humans.

Reducing smoking is an efficient way to improve health.

Tobacco Act

The main vehicle of the tobacco policy is legislation, in particular the Tobacco Act. The Tobacco Act implements the Tobacco Products Directive (EU) and has been in force since 15 August 2016.

In addition to tobacco products, the Tobacco Act applies to tobacco substitutes, tobacco imitations, smoking accessories as well as electronic cigarettes and nicotine-containing liquids.

The Tobacco Act regulates the following:

  • requirements and notifications concerning tobacco products
  • unit packets
  • import restrictions
  • display bans
  • smoking prohibition and restrictions
  • direction, supervision and sanctions.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for the general direction and guidance of compliance with the Tobacco Act and the provisions issues under it. 

EU regulation and cooperation in the tobacco policy

The EU Directive concerning tobacco products and the EU Directive concerning advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products have been implemented in Finnish tobacco legislation.

The Tobacco Products Directive contains supplementary implementing regulations. A summary page of supplementary regulations is available from the link below. By clicking the Finnish ver-sions are available.

Products referred to in the Tobacco Act also belong to the scope of application of the EU market surveillance regulation.

In addition, the filters used in tobacco products belong to the scope of application of the Directive on single-use plastics.

Traceability system of tobacco products

Provisions on the traceability system for tobacco products are laid down in the EU Directive 2014/40/EU concerning tobacco products. Its aim is to prevent the illicit trade of tobacco products. In the Tobacco Act (549/2019), the provisions on traceability are in chapter 6. More detailed information about the traceability system and its implementation can be found on Valvira’s website on the prevention of illegal trade.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health appoints the issuer of identification codes required by the traceability system for tobacco products imported to the Finnish market. The ID issuer appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is Allexis s.r.o. We recommend that the economic operators monitor the ID issuer’s websites monthly for possible updates and news.

Actions to reduce the use of tobacco and related products

The key actions to reduce the use of tobacco and related products are:

  • as high product prices as possible (price and tax policies)
  • smoke-free environments
  • banning tobacco product marketing
  • restricting access to products (sales bans and making sales subject to licence, for instance)
  • regulation on products, their characteristics and unit packets (markings about nicotine, tar and carbon dioxide emissions and warnings, for instance)
  • anti-smoking communications
  • support for the cessation of the use of tobacco and related products.

The working group established by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health presented a road map in May 2018, the systematic implementation of which would end the use of tobacco and other nic-otine products in Finland by 2030. At that time they would be used daily by less than five per cent of the adult population. To achieve this objective referred to in the Tobacco Act, the tobacco poli-cy should be monitored and assessed during each government term and new measures should be developed.

Other authorities’ responsibilities in the tobacco policy

Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (the market surveillance of the products and the surveillance of marketing bans), and municipalities (the surveillance of the entire Tobacco Act within the region of the municipality) are responsible for monitoring the Tobacco Act. Valvira’s task is also to guide the surveillance of the Tobacco Act, for example, by preparing a national surveillance plan of the Tobacco Act.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (TTL) are expert agencies in the work of reducing smoking.

The excise duty on tobacco products is separately laid down in the Finnish Act on Excise Duty on Tobacco Products, for which the Ministry of Finance is responsible.

Filters used in tobacco products belong to the scope of application of the Directive on single-use plastics that is implemented in Finland by the Waste Act. The surveillance authority over the marking requirements and product bans of the Directive on single-use plastics is proposed in the Government Bill 40/2021 implementing the EU waste regulation package to be addressed to the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes. 

Further information

Meri Paavola, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Safety, Security and Health / TUTO, Wellbeing and Health Protection Unit / HYT 0295163343