World No Tobacco Day 2021: Czechs are smoking less, using e-cigarettes more

The number of Czech smokers is in decline thanks to the smoking ban, better prevention, and improved health literacy, say experts.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 31.05.2021 15:30 (updated on 31.05.2021)

Prague, May 31 (CTK) - The number of smokers of classical cigarettes has been falling in the Czech Republic in the long term, but more people use heated tobacco products and electronic cigarettes are becoming more popular among young people, Czech anti-drug coordinator Jarmila Vedralova said today.

The number of smokers has been decreasing for a long time thanks to the introduction of the smoking ban in 2017, better prevention, and the improved health literacy of the general population, she said.

May 31 is celebrated as World No Tobacco Day.

According to the latest data of the National Institute of Public Health (SZU), 23.1 percent of people aged over 15 smoked classical cigarettes in 2020, compared to 24.9 percent in 2019 and about 31 percent in 2012.

SZU data showed that heated tobacco products are used by 4.1 percent of the respondents, compared to about 3 percent one year before; they mostly used by people aged 25-44.

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Electronic cigarettes were smoked by 4.8 percent of people in the country. Marie Nejedla, from the SZU, said the number of people who smoked them every day increased more than two times from 2019 in the age group from 15 to 24 and was 5.8 percent last year.

Two-fifths of smokers of electronic cigarettes said in the SZU survey that they also smoked classical cigarettes. Last year, the SZU for the first time asked about nicotine patches. The survey showed 1.7 percent of people applied the patches.

Addictologist Adam Kulhanek, from the 1st Medical Faculty of Charles University, said the Czech Republic is gradually getting closer to the countries of West Europe where only a very small part of the population smokes. He said the decreasing number of smokers showed that measures like the law against smoking, health warnings on cigarette boxes, and a higher excise tax on tobacco worked well.

"The new products with nicotine are a challenge for prevention, treatment, and the policy of tobacco control. The survey confirmed that electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco, and nicotine patches are most attractive for young people. This group is the most threatened by the progress of addiction," Kulhanek said, adding that nicotine addiction is developed in people under age 25 up to seven times faster than in older adults.

Czech President Miloš Zeman, a heavy smoker, signed the anti-smoking law in 2017, which saw a ban on smoking in indoor areas of restaurants, theaters, cafes, and cinemas throughout the Czech Republic. The law was later extended to include a ban on smoking in public transportation areas, shopping centers, and playgrounds.

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