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Sweden Close To Becoming First ‘Smoke Free’ Country In Europe For 2024

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STOCKHOLM — In Sweden’s outdoor bars and eateries, summer is in the air but not cigarette smoke.

The World Health Organisation will observe “World No Tobacco Day” on Wednesday, and Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free” (defined as having fewer than 5% of the population smoking every day).

While others refer to the presence of “snus,” a smokeless tobacco product prohibited elsewhere in the E.U. but marketed as an alternative to cigarettes in Sweden, many experts credit decades of anti-smoking campaigns and laws.

Regardless of the cause, the 5% goal is now within sight. According to the statistics agency Eurostat, only 6.4% of Swedes over 15 smoked every day in 2019, the lowest rate in the E.U. and significantly lower than the average of 18.5% for the 27-nation bloc.

According to statistics from Sweden’s Public Health Agency, the smoking rate has decreased since then and last year, it was 5.6%.

Carina Astorsson, a Stockholm resident, claimed that the reason was that “we like a healthy way of living.” She said she had never been interested in smoking because “I don’t like the smell; I want to take care of my body.”

Younger generations of health-conscious Swedes appear to be aware of the dangers of smoking. Nearly 20% of people smoked 20 years ago, a low rate globally. Since then, anti-smoking policies, such as those that forbid smoking in restaurants, have reduced the smoking rate throughout Europe.

From 2014 to 2019, France saw record-low smoking rates, but this progress halted during the COVID-19 epidemic, which is partly blamed for creating the stress that led to smoking. In France, about one-third of those between 18 and 75 admitted smoking in 2021, a small rise from the previous year. 25% of people smoke every day.

Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free”.

Sweden has taken more steps than others to outlaw smoking, and the country claims that this has positively impacted several health factors, including a comparatively low rate of lung cancer.

According to Ulrika Rehed, secretary-general of the Swedish Cancer Society, “We were early in restricting smoking in public spaces, first in school playgrounds and after-school centers, and later in restaurants, outdoor cafes, and public places like bus stations.” Taxes on cigarettes and severe regulations on marketing these items have been significant concurrent factors.

She continued, “Sweden is not there yet,” pointing out that smoking prevalence is higher among underprivileged socioeconomic categories.

In the 10.5 million-person nation, seeing individuals lighting up is getting harder and harder. Outside the entrances to hospitals and other public facilities, as well as at bus stops train platforms, and smoking is not permitted. Like most of Europe, Sweden has a smoking prohibition extending to bars and restaurants’ outdoor seating areas as of 2019.

On Tuesday night, many people ate and drank on Stockholm’s terraces as the sun sank. While cigarettes were not present, some tables did have snus cans. Some drinkers put tiny pouches of moist tobacco under their upper lips between beer sips.

Long promoting their product as a less dangerous alternative to smoking, Swedish snus manufacturers take pride in the nation’s dropping smoking rates. Health officials in Sweden hesitate to suggest smokers switch to snus, another extremely addictive nicotine substance.

Rehed declared, “I don’t see any justification for pitting two harmful products against one another.” “It is true that smoking is more dangerous than most other activities, including snus. But even with snus, there are numerous health hazards.

Snus use during pregnancy has been associated in certain studies with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and preterm births.

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Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free”.

When Sweden joined the E.U. in 1995, they wanted an exception to the E.U.’s ban on smokeless tobacco since they are so fond of their snus, a distant relative of dipping tobacco in the United States.

“It’s part of the Swedish culture; it’s like the Swedish equivalent of Italian Parma ham or any other cultural habit,” said Patrik Hildingsson, a spokesman for Swedish Match, the leading snus producer in Sweden that tobacco giant Philip Morris recently purchased.

According to him, policymakers should push the tobacco industry to create less dangerous smoking substitutes like snus and e-cigarettes.

“I mean, there are still 1.2 billion smokers in the globe. In the E.U., almost 100 million individuals smoke every day. And I believe that the restrictions on policymaking are limited,” he remarked. You will need to offer smokers various alternate, less dangerous options.

Turkmenistan, which has a tobacco consumption rate below 5%, is ahead of Sweden in terms of phasing out smoking, according to WHO, the U.N. health office. However, it should be noted that this is mostly because smoking is virtually nonexistent among women. The rate is 7% for men.

The WHO credits a variety of tobacco control initiatives, such as education programs, restrictions on tobacco advertising, and “cessation support” for smokers who want to give up the habit, for Sweden’s dropping smoking rate. However, the agency pointed out that when you include snus and similar products, tobacco usage in Sweden is higher than 20% of the adult population, comparable to the global average.

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Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free”.

In an email, which stated that “changing from one harmful product to another is not a solution.” The tobacco industry is attempting to deceive consumers about how deadly these products are by promoting a purported “harm reduction approach” to smoking.

According to Tove Marina Sohlberg, a researcher at the Department of Public Health Sciences at Stockholm University, Sweden’s anti-smoking laws stigmatize smoking and smokers, driving them into designated smoking locations and out of sight in public places.

She claimed that we are telling smokers their behavior is unacceptable in society.

One of the few remaining smokers in Stockholm, Paul Monja, thought about his habit as he prepared to light up.

He described it as an addiction that he hoped to overcome at some point. “Perhaps not now, maybe tomorrow.”

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Putin Signs Decree Allowing Seizure Of Americans’ Assets If US Confiscates Russian Holdings

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President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree empowering Russia to seize assets from US corporations and individuals to compensate for any Russian assets confiscated in the US.

The mandate was published on the Russian government’s legal web on Thursday, as senior finance officials from the Group of Seven industrialized nations began a summit where the issue of what to do with Russian assets frozen in the West was at the forefront of the agenda.

Putin Signs Decree Allowing Seizure Of Americans’ Assets If US Confiscates Russian Holdings

Ukraine and several of its allies have asked for the confiscation of $260 billion in Russian assets held outside of the nation following Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022. However, European officials have refused, citing legal and financial stability concerns.

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Putin | Reuters Image

Putin Signs Decree Allowing Seizure Of Americans’ Assets If US Confiscates Russian Holdings

However, in April, US President Joe Biden signed the Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity for Ukrainians Act, which authorizes the administration to collect around $5 billion in Russian state assets in the United States. The legislation was included in a US aid package for Ukraine and other countries, which includes approximately $61 billion for Ukraine’s defense.

However, the United States will likely seize the assets with the approval of the other Group of Seven nations and the European Union.

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Putin | Poltico Image

Putin Signs Decree Allowing Seizure Of Americans’ Assets If US Confiscates Russian Holdings

According to Putin’s directive, Russian firms, the central bank, and individuals can appeal to Russian courts to have the seizure of property in the United States declared unreasonable. If the court approves, a government commission will give assets as compensation, which might include property owned by US people or companies in Russia and equities and interests in Russian enterprises.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

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Harvard | Harvard.com Image

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – Harvard University planned to host its commencement ceremony on Thursday, following a weeks-long pro-Palestinian encampment that closed off Harvard Yard to save individuals with university links and heightened campus tensions.

Those tensions were heightened on Wednesday when school authorities revealed that 13 Harvard students who participated in the encampment would not be permitted to graduate alongside their classmates.

Those in the encampment demanded a cease-fire in Gaza and Harvard’s divestment from firms that support the war.

Also on Thursday, Northwestern and Rutgers University presidents are scheduled to speak before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on concessions they made to pro-Palestinian protesters to cease campus rallies. The Chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, was also due to attend the most recent hearings looking into how universities have responded to the protests and charges of antisemitism.

Harvard

Harvard | AP News Image

Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

The decision by the school’s top governing board comes after faculty members recommended on Monday that the 13 students be allowed to graduate despite their participation in the encampment.

However, Harvard’s governing board, the Harvard Corporation, stated that each 13 had been determined to have violated university standards during the camping protest.

“In coming to this determination, we note that the express provisions of the Harvard College Student Handbook state that students who are not in good standing are not eligible for degrees,” the company stated in a written statement.

The statement did not rule out the possibility of an appeals procedure, stating that the corporation knows “that the inability to graduate is consequential for students and their families” and supports the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ goal to accelerate the examination of appeal requests.

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Harvard | The Forward Image

Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

“We care deeply about every member of our community — students, faculty, staff, researchers, and alumni — and we have chosen a path forward that accords with our responsibilities and reaffirms a process for our students to receive prompt and fair review,” said the statement.

Protesters packed up their things and departed a pro-Palestinian campsite at Drexel University in Philadelphia on Thursday after the school announced a decision to have police clear the area

Supporters of the students said that the decision not to allow them to earn degrees at commencement violated a May 14 agreement between interim President Alan Garber and the Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine alliance, which would have allowed them to graduate.

Protesters opposing Israel’s war with Hamas willingly demolished their tents after university administrators agreed to hear their concerns over the endowment, bringing a peaceful end to the types of demonstrations that were broken up by police on other campuses.

The group issued a statement late Wednesday, claiming that the decision jeopardizes the 13 students’ post-graduate careers.

“By rejecting a democratic faculty vote, the Corporation has proved itself to be a wholly illegitimate body, and Garber an illegitimate president, accountable to no one at the university,” claimed the organization.

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Harvard | Harvard Crimson Image

Harvard Holding Commencement After Weekslong Pro-Palestinian Encampment Protest

“Today’s actions have plunged the university even further into a crisis of legitimacy and governance, which will have major repercussions for Harvard in the coming months and years,” claimed the organization.

Supporters of the protestors planned a vigil outside Harvard Yard on Thursday to support the 13 and urge for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Protesters packed up their things and departed a pro-Palestinian campsite at Drexel University in Philadelphia on Thursday after the school announced a decision to have police clear the area. A wave of pro-Palestinian tent encampments on college campuses has resulted in over 3,000 arrests nationally.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

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Biden | NBC Image

Washington — President Joe Biden is greeting Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House for a three-day state visit as the East African country prepares to send troops to Haiti as part of a United Nations-led effort to calm a deteriorating security situation in the Caribbean.

Some 1,000 Kenyan police personnel will soon arrive in Haiti as part of a multilateral security support operation aimed at reducing gang violence. Other countries anticipated to assist the Kenyan military include the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad, and Bangladesh.

For years, the United States has worked with Kenya on counterterrorism initiatives in Africa, notably the fight against the extremist group al-Shabab. Kenya has joined the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and an international maritime task force established by the Biden administration in December in response to Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

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Biden | AP News Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

A top Biden administration official praised Ruto’s decision to send police personnel to Haiti, calling it an “unprecedented undertaking” and demonstrating Kenya’s international leadership.

Kenya is the first African nation to have a state visit from the United States since 2008.

“This is a deep and broad partnership,” White House principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said last week. He said it begins with combatting terrorism in Kenya’s region of Africa and progresses to “becoming a net security provider in our own hemisphere” with the upcoming deployment to Haiti.

The state visit begins with the two leaders meeting with CEOs at the White House in the afternoon. The goal is to increase relations between the American and Kenyan IT industries. The White House predicts that Teneo, Alphabet, and Semiconductor Technologies Limited executives will attend.

On Thursday, Biden and Ruto will hold formal talks and a joint press conference before attending a state dinner. Ruto is also scheduled to attend a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event with Vice President Kamala Harris this Friday.

Ruto began his journey to the United States in Atlanta, where he visited The King Center, met NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal, and dropped by Tyler Perry Studios.

The United States and Kenya are commemorating their 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. According to White House officials, the leaders’ agenda will include trade and investment, technological innovation, climate and sustainable energy, as well as health and security.

Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell stated that the two countries would make “substantial commitments” to strengthen Kenya’s technical industry. Kenya hosts Google and Microsoft headquarters and established itself as East Africa’s technology hub, the Silicon Savannah.

In December 2022, Biden gathered dozens of African leaders in Washington to make the case that the United States was “all in” on Africa’s future, promising billions of dollars in government and private investment in health, infrastructure, business, and technology. The Democrat also promised to visit Sub-Saharan Africa in 2023.

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Biden | AP news Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

But other issues got in the way last year, notably the Israel-Hamas conflict and Biden’s lengthy battle with Republicans to renew financing for Ukraine’s war with Russia. Biden’s projected journey to Africa never occurred.

All the while, Russia has attempted to strengthen its economic and military influence in Africa. The junta in the West African nation recently ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Niger, which should be complete by mid-September. Meanwhile, Russia sent military trainers to Niger.

In addition, the United States needs to catch up to rival China in terms of investment in Africa, which has emerged as a vital battleground in the rivalry between great powers.

Biden and his advisers foresee fierce economic competition with Beijing in Africa but have attempted to argue that Washington is a far more stable partner in the long run

To that purpose, Biden took steps early in his presidency to prioritize Africa over his predecessors, including hosting over 50 leaders for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Conference in December 2022. However, analysts think the administration’s involvement has waned since the summit.

Cameron Hudson, a senior scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Program, highlighted that Biden has only hosted one African leader, Angola President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, for meetings at the White House since the conference.

“This visit today feels a bit like a fig leaf, not just for the Kenyans but for Africa in general, and a kind of a placeholder for the administration to say: All of those things that we said early on in the administration, they all remain true,” Hudson stated.

According to Macharia Munene, a professor of international relations at the United States International University in Africa, Ruto hopes to use the visit to boost his international reputation. He feels that deploying Kenyan police to Haiti will help him achieve that aim.

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Biden | AP news Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

“Ruto wishes to be known as the African leader, particularly in the West. “And this kind of recognition fuels that desire,” Munene explained.

Ruto has stated that Kenya’s mission to Haiti aims to “formulate actionable strategies that will lead to long-term solutions” in the poorest Western Hemisphere country. For decades, Haiti has suffered from poverty, political instability, and natural calamities. The United States has agreed to offer direct financial assistance to the United Nations-backed mission and training, logistics, and material support.

However, Ruto’s decision to involve Kenyan police in a crisis hundreds of miles abroad has sparked criticism in Nairobi, including legal challenges to prevent police troops from being deployed.

International intervention in Haiti has a complex history. A sexual abuse scandal and the arrival of cholera, which claimed over 10,000 lives, hindered a U.N.-approved stabilization operation in Haiti that started in June 2004. The mission concluded in October 2017.

SOURCE – (AP)

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