The number of non-smoking areas onboard is increasing. Many appreciate the tougher rules but the smoking ban in cabins is still a sensitive issue.
The number of smokers has shrunk dramatically over the past decade, but still more than one million Swedes smoke daily. Seafarers are over-represented. According to a health survey from 2009, 18% of men and 33% of women smoke onboard. The highest proportion are women working in finance administration, where as many as 40% are smokers. That compares with 13% of women and 12% of men in the Swedish population as a whole. Access to cheap cigarettes may be a contributing factor to differences in smoking habits between seafarers and shore staff.
“We give staff 15% discount on everything they buy, including cigarettes,” says Ellen Gerle, assistant personnel manager at Stena Line. ”Actually it is a bit contradictory to offer cheap cigarettes because at the same time we are working to get people to stop smoking.”
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 substances, of which some 50 are carcinogenic. Every year, around 7,000 Swedes die prematurely from smoking. Between 2-3% of smokers successfully quit each year on their own. Medicines can double the chances of becoming a non-smoker and among those who also accept support from trained detox helpers at the medical centre or the stop-smoking helpline, 30-40% succeed in quitting the habit. During the initial period, anti-smoking products may also reduce withdrawal symptoms such as irritation, headaches and difficulty concentrating.
Nicotine chewing gum. Should be chewed slowly to avoid the risk of nausea, hiccups or heartburn. Chewing gum can be difficult to use if you have problems with your teeth or if you have dentures.
Nicotine patches. Provide a steady dose of nicotine for up to 24 hours.
Tablets. Can be sucked or placed under the tongue and last 20-30 minutes. A side effect may include irritation of the mouth and throat.
Inhaler. A cigarette-like plastic nozzle that you load with nicotine cartridges. To get the same dose of nicotine as when inhaling from a cigarette, you must suck more than once.
Nasal spray. Available on prescription. Nicotine is sprayed into the nose, providing the fastest spread of nicotine in the blood. Nasal spray may irritate nasal mucous membranes.
Oral spray. The latest addition to the group of nicotine replacement therapy products.
Source: Health Care Guide.
Stop Smoking Helpline: 020-84 00 00 or www.slutarokalinjen.org
On Furetank ships, too, cigarettes are sold in packages. But Sussi Löfgren from the shipping company, who specializes in health issues, thinks other factors are important in smoking behaviour.
“When I have been onboard and made health interviews on our vessels, some of the Filipino sailors said that they only smoke when they are onboard. At home they say their wives tell them not to smoke. If you are not a devout non-smoker, I think it’s easy to smoke at sea where the choice is entirely your own,” she says.
On Furetank vessels the crew are only allowed to smoke in certain designated rooms. The bridge, cabins and messes are completely non-smoking. At Stena Line, too, smoking has decreased and now anyone who wants to light a cigarette must go to a glass-enclosed shelter out on the deck. But crewmembers still smoke in their staff cabins, and it is difficult to push through a ban there,” says Ellenor Gerle.
“This is a sensitive issue that we have discussed a lot. We think it should be self-evident to have a smoking ban, but the union says no.
Jens Ole Hansen is the Seko Seafarers representative at Stena Line. He does not want a smoking ban in cabins.
“There are more and more bans against this, that and the other, but at some point you just have to accept that people are living onboard. I understand those who do not smoke as well, but then the shipping company must arrange non-smoking cabins for them,” he says.
There is no basis in law for a smoking ban in staff cabins, according to Mikael Andersson at the Transport Agency.
“You simply have to appeal to common sense and hope that people do not smoke in the cabins,” he says.