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Iceland – Health Issues

Iceland is a small country with a population of just over 360,000 people. The country is known for its natural beauty, including glaciers, geysers, and hot springs. Despite its small size, Iceland has a well-developed healthcare system and ranks high in healthcare performance compared to other countries. However, like all countries, Iceland has its share of health issues that affect its population. In this article, we will explore some of the common health issues in Iceland, as well as the prevalence of smoking and the attitudes towards it.

Common Health Issues in Iceland

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Iceland. According to the Icelandic Heart Association, approximately 30% of all deaths in Iceland are due to CVD. The risk factors for CVD are similar to those in other developed countries and include smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The Icelandic government has implemented several programs aimed at reducing the risk of CVD, such as encouraging healthy eating habits and promoting physical activity.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Iceland. The most common types of cancer in Iceland are breast, prostate, and lung cancer. The risk factors for cancer include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and exposure to environmental factors such as radiation and air pollution. The Icelandic government has implemented several programs aimed at reducing the risk of cancer, such as promoting healthy lifestyles and providing cancer screening programs.

Mental Health

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Mental health is a significant health issue in Iceland, with depression and anxiety being the most common mental health disorders. According to a report by the Icelandic Ministry of Health, approximately 10% of the Icelandic population has been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives, and anxiety disorders are even more prevalent. The Icelandic government has implemented several programs aimed at improving mental health, such as increasing access to mental health services and providing mental health education in schools.


Obesity is becoming an increasingly common health issue in Iceland, with approximately one-third of the population considered overweight or obese. The risk factors for obesity include unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity, and genetic factors. The Icelandic government has implemented several programs aimed at reducing the prevalence of obesity, such as promoting healthy eating habits and increasing access to physical activity.

Smoking in Iceland

Prevalence of Smoking

Smoking is not very common in Iceland, with only about 15% of the population being smokers. This is significantly lower than the smoking rates in many other developed countries. The low prevalence of smoking in Iceland can be attributed to several factors, including the high cost of tobacco products, strong anti-smoking campaigns, and a ban on smoking in public places.

Attitudes Towards Smoking

The attitudes towards smoking in Iceland are generally negative, with most people viewing smoking as a harmful habit. The Icelandic government has implemented several measures aimed at reducing smoking rates, such as increasing taxes on tobacco products, banning smoking in public places, and providing access to smoking cessation programs.

Legislation on Smoking

Iceland has some of the strictest laws on smoking in the world. Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces, including bars, restaurants, and workplaces. The law also prohibits smoking in outdoor areas such as playgrounds, sports fields, and bus stops. Tobacco advertising is also prohibited, and the packaging of tobacco products must include graphic warnings about the dangers of smoking. The government has also implemented measures aimed at reducing access to tobacco products, such as prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors and restricting the sale of tobacco products in certain locations.

Overall, Iceland is a relatively healthy country, with a high life expectancy and low rates of many diseases. However, like all countries, there are still health issues that affect the population, including mental health issues and smoking. The Icelandic government has taken steps to address these issues, including providing free mental health services and implementing anti-smoking campaigns, and will continue to work towards improving the health of its population.