Netherlands has few smokers compared to other countries

People smoking on a platform at Amsterdam Amstel Station, 8 Feb 2018
People smoking on a platform at Amsterdam Amstel Station, 8 Feb 2018Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

Internationally, the Netherlands has a relatively low percentage of smokers, according to figures from the OECD publication Health at a glance 2019 that Statistics Netherlands released on Thursday. The percentage of daily smokers in the Netherlands fell from 23 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2017, just under the 18 percent average in OECD countries. 

There are major differences between countries, though in most countries, the percentage of smokers decreased over the past years. Greece has the highest percentage of smokers, 27 percent, down from 40 percent in 2007. And Mexico has the lowest percentage, 8 percent down from 13 percent. Austria and Slovakia saw an increase in smokers between 2007 and 2017, from 23 to 24 percent and from 20 to 23 percent respectively.

The OECD publication also showed that the Netherlands has a relatively low proportion of doctors who were trained abroad. Only 2 percent of doctors in the country in 2017 had a foreign diploma. Many other countries have a larger share of doctors who studied at universities in other countries. In Israel, for example, 58 percent of doctors have a foreign diploma. 

The Netherlands also spends relatively little on non-reimbursed medicines. Only 2 percent of the healthcare expenditure in the Netherlands went towards medicines not covered by insurers in 2017. The percentage of own payments is lower than Belgium's 4 percent and much lower than the 13 percent in Greece and 12 percent in the United States.