Weekly Highlight: 08.07.2008


Poll: ban outdoor smoking

The nation that up until a few years ago had one of the most relaxed attitudes towards smoking is now ready to force smokers even further into a corner. 
After resisting smoking bans while other European and North American implemented increasingly strict restrictions on lighting up indoors, Danes are ready to enact bans against outdoor smoking in public places, according to a poll carried out by weekly publication Mandag Morgen.
Nearly a year after a national ban on smoking in all indoor workplaces – including bars and restaurants – went into effect, the poll found 46 percent of Danes favour a ban against smoking in outdoor areas such as sidewalk cafés. Thirty-six percent said they were against such a measure.
Concerns about the effects of second-hand smoke were the primary reason many supported the ban.
Inge Hanustrup Clemmensen of the Danish Cancer Society said that even though studies show second-hand smoke present a health hazard, an outdoor smoking ban was neither practical nor necessary.
‘I’d rather see people show courtesy and not smoke in places where there are a lot of people gathered. The poll shows that people don’t want to be bothered by smoke outside, and it would be best if it became a custom that you just don’t expose others to second-hand smoke.’
Fact file | Smoking in Denmark
– The most recent revisions to laws against smoking in indoor public places went into effect on 15 August 2007.

– Smoking is banned in the vast majority of indoor public spaces

– The 2007 law specifically names workplaces, hospitals, schools, childcare centres and taxis as areas where smoking is not permitted

– Bars measuring less than 40m2 that do not serve food are exempt from the ban

– According to recent estimates 25 percent of Danes over 13 years smoke every day

– 12,000 Danes die annually from smoking-related illnesses (km)


Food Costs Rising at Far Beyond European Average
Published 05.07.2008, 18.51

The cost of food in Finland has risen far more in the past year than the European average. Groceries are nearly ten percent more expensive than a year ago, while the European average has risen only by 6.4 percent.
Only a year ago consumers in Finland felt relief that food costs were rising far slower than in the rest of Europe. Now costs have leapt by 9.5 percent.
The rising price tag on dairy and meat products has been the biggest factor in the overall rise in food costs. For example, the cost of Edam cheese has increased by around 20 percent and the cost of fat-free milk by 25 percent.
A joint of beef is now a fifth more expensive, and wheat flour is more than 40 percent more expensive than a year ago.

Prices Driving Inflation

Statistics Finland development director Ilkka Lehtinen says that the rising cost of food is responsible for a third of the inflation experienced in Finland.
“For a long time the effect of food on inflation was minimal, almost nonexistent, but now the situation is far different than it has been in many years,” says Lehtinen.
But experts cannot agree on exactly why the cost of food has risen so quickly in the past year. One factor in certainly the rising cost of fuel, which is used in abundance to produce any food in such a relatively cold climate. But this alone doesn’t account for the increases.
Some experts believe that retailers have upped prices to increase their own profit margin, other blame the industry producers. Taxation on food is also higher in Finland than the European average.


Donald Duck tops student’s reading list
Tuesday 08 July 2008

One in ten Dutch students reads the weekly comic Donald Duck, making it the most popular magazine among college and university goers, according to research by marketing bureau StudentServices.
When they are not enjoying Donald’s adventures, students spend three hours a day watching television and five and a half hours on the internet, the research shows, according to news agency ANP.
The research also shows that sme 40% of female and 52% of male students still live at home. They spend between 25.5 and 27 hours a week studying and 10 hours a week working. Some 71% of the 1,775 students polled say they are never overdrawn and 64% have not borrowed money to be able to study.


Immigrants keep Oslo going
First published: 07 Jul 2008, 14:38

New figures from the City of Oslo indicate that every fourth resident of Norway’s capital has a non-Norwegian background. They may have come from Sweden, the USA, Vietnam or Gambia, and they’re playing an important role in the job market and the culture.
“Without the immigrants who work hard and do a great job, we could just forget trying to keep the restaurant branch going,” said the boss of the company canteen at the large German industrial concern Siemens.
Of the 10 persons working in Siemens’ canteen, for example, only two were born in Norway. The others come from Denmark, Sweden, Pakistan, Mexico, Gambia, Turkey, Morocco and Kosovo. All contend that they don’t really think about the international diversity.
“But we do talk a bit about the countries we come from, said Yaya Jallow Olsen from Gambia.
“And we laugh a lot together and have fun on the job,” added Lene Halstvedt from Denmark.
“We learn a lot from each other,” confirmed Yonus Kaplan from Turkey.
New data from the city and state statistics bureau SSB shows that of Oslo’s 560,484 residents, 137,878 are immigrants. That’s up from 85,550 in 1998, when the city had a population of 499,693 and immigrants made up 17 percent, not the 24.5 percent today.
The largest single immigrant group continues to be from Pakistan, with 20,313 living in Oslo. Next in line is Somalia, with 9,708 immigrants and Sweden, with 7,462. Other countries with relatively large immigrant groups in Oslo include Sri Lanka, Poland, Iraq, Turkey, Vietnam, Iran and Denmark. Eastern Europeans as a whole make up nearly as large a group of immigrants as those from Pakistan, with 19,721 registered as living in Oslo.
Foreigners also make up a fairly large portion of the population in Stavanger, where many expatriates are working in the oil and offshore industries.
Erling Lae, head of Oslo’s Municipal Executive Board, is pleased with the amount of foreigners in the capital. “When every fourth resident has a foreign background, I ask myself what the city would look like if they weren’t here,” Lae told newspaper Aften. “Oslo would have been in a deep crisis.
“It doesn’t matter where they’re coming from, but that they’re doing well and have a job. And most do.”


House prices ‘will keep falling’
Published: 8 Jul 08 10:18 CET

House prices are set to continue falling in many parts of Sweden during the autumn, according to a new report from mortgage lender SBAB. Apartments and houses in Gothenburg and Malmö will fall in value during the third quarter, while prices in Stockholm are set to remain stable, the report says.
The dampened housing market means that the difference between asking prices and sale prices will get smaller and that homes will take longer to sell.
Real estate agents blame the fall in prices on the large number of homes for sale combined with weak demand. Further rises in interest rates from the Riksbank could lead to a further fall in demand.
“Estate agents are expecting the housing market to remain weak in the third quarter. The time it takes to sell, which has already become significantly longer, is expected to get longer still. Bidding on properties is also expected to continue to get weaker, particularly in Stockholm,” wrote Tor Borg, SBAB analyst, in a statement.
SBAB based its report on a survey of 220 estate agents taken between 9th and 23rd June.

1 Comment

  1. July 10, 2008 at 3:14 am

    An alternative to smoking bans

    It is clear that separation of smokers from non-smokers combined

    with air exchange technology is a complete solution to this largely

    artificial problem. All it takes is regulating authorities setting the

    standards for indoor air quality on passive smoke, and the technology

    does the rest. Such air quality standards are common in industrial

    and environmental contexts. But, to date, no country in the world has

    set them for smoking areas. It seems clear that the reasons are not

    scientific, nor are they economic or technical: they are political.

    As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and non-smokers
    can be reached, through setting a quality standard and the use of modern
    ventilation technology.

    Air ventilation can easily create a comfortable environment that removes not
    just passive smoke, but also and especially the potentially serious
    contaminants that are independent from smoking.

    Thomas Laprade
    480 Rupert St.
    Thunder Bay, Ont.


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