Denmark Aims to Combat Cancer

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The Danish government has according to a government press release a national strategy to be “the first smoke-free generation by 2020”.

The press release states that this will be done in part by putting new restrictions on smoking at educational institutions and “partnerships with the business community” aimed at getting stores to stop selling tobacco products to minors.

“Far too many children and youth take up smoking. We need to do something about that. And if we can reach our goal of having none of the children who are born today smoking in 2030, we will have gone very far in terms of preventing new cancer cases,” Health Minister Sophie Løhde said.

Danish health minister Sophie Lohde
Danish health minister Sophie Lohde

According to Løhde, the government’s plan would “send a clear signal that children and smoking don’t go together”.

The goal of a smoke-free generation was presented as part of Cancer Pack IV (Kræftplan IV), which carries a total price tag of 2.2 billion kroner.

“The government puts a high priority on the fight against cancer and therefore we want to inject a historically large amount of money into the area. With Cancer Pack IV we will ensure that more people survive cancer and that they can live a good life when they complete treatment,” Løhde said.

The head of The Danish Cancer Society Leif Vestergaard Pedersen

The head of The Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse) called the plans “a breakthrough”.

“This is a clear acknowledgement of the fact that tobacco is the most serious preventable health problem in Denmark,” Leif Vestergaard Pedersen told the venerable Danish newspaper Politiken.

Cancer treatment
Cancer treatment

According to a study released at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna in September 2015 that was described as the largest ever study of the disease, Denmark’s cancer survival rate of 50.9 percent is near the bottom among all western European countries and far below the level in Nordic neighbors Sweden (64.7 percent), Finland (61.4), Iceland (61.2) and Norway (58.6).

Løhde said an aim of the plan is for Denmark’s survival rates to “match the other Nordic countries”.

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Among the other initiatives in the plan is a “patient-first” strategy which stresses individual decisions about treatment options.

“Cancer treatment should be based on the individual patient’s needs and life situation. Patient involvement is already an integral part of the health care system but we should turn to the patients themselves even more for advice, listen more to them and be better and considering their experiences,” Løhde said.

Although the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) reportedly recommended additional measures including increased tobacco levies, plain-label packaging for cigarettes and forcing stores to place tobacco products out of plain view, the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse) said the government “hit the nail on the head” with its new plan.

Dorte Crueger, Chairwoman of the Danish Cancer Society
Dorte Crueger, Chairwoman of the Danish Cancer Society

“There are a lot of good things to say about Cancer Pack IV, but the thing I am most pleased with is the ambition to make future generations smoke-free,” the society’s chairwoman, Dorthe Crüger, said in a press release. “No other initiative could save us from more instances of cancer than if we succeed with that.”

Denmark Aims to Combat Cancer, source: Press releases