Bad habits: what scientists have learned about smokers | Culture and lifestyle in Germany and Europe | DW

Smoking is one of the health-destroying habits that the inhabitants of the Earth still cannot get rid of. There are now 1.3 billion smokers in the world – almost five times more men than women. Most use cigarettes, 200 million use other tobacco products. Tobacco use remains a global epidemic, study authors say Tobacco Atlaspublished in May by scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago in collaboration with public health organization Vital Strategies.

More smokers in developing countries and among young people

According to this organization, about 5 trillion cigarettes are smoked annually in the world, and tobacco consumption alone in 2019 caused 8.7 million deaths, more than a million people died from passive smoking. However, there is also a positive trend. In 2007, the proportion of smokers was 23 percent, in 2019 it is already less than 20. First of all, progress is noticeable in wealthy industrialized countries due to restrictive measures. The highest consumption of tobacco is in North Macedonia, Belarus and Bulgaria – about 2400-2500 cigarettes per person per year. For comparison, a Russian smokes an average of 1,900 cigarettes a year, just like a resident of China.

On the other hand, the tobacco industry is using new tactics. It is increasingly focusing on poorer countries with weak regulation in this area and relies on young people. The researchers found that in 63 out of 135 countries, tobacco use among young people has increased. More than 50 million users of cigarettes and other tobacco products are 13-15 year olds. Their number is highest in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Croatia, where a third of teenagers abuse smoking.

Tabacco Atlas: Belarus among the leaders in cigarette consumption

“Tabacco Atlas”: Belarus among the leaders in cigarette consumption

The marketing strategy has also changed. Advertising no longer focuses on individual brands and products, but rather celebrates the habit of smoking as something glamorous and desirable. Marketing has also become more covert and devious, with tobacco products popping up in movies and social media influencers.

What about smoking in Germany?

According to statistics, in Germany every fourth woman and every third man over 18 smokes. In total, Germans spent almost 30 billion euros on tobacco products in 2021. The new annual report on the situation with tobacco and alcohol addiction in Germany “Jahrbuch Sucht – 2022” notes that the country’s inhabitants consumed 71.8 billion cigarettes in 2021 – almost three percent less than the year before. That is, on average, the Germans smoked 863 cigarettes per person – this is the lowest figure since the reunification of Germany. The number of self-rolled cigarettes consumed also decreased.

However, alternative tobacco products e-cigarettes or tobacco heaters, conversely, have become more common. Consumption of pipe tobacco increased by 40 percent to 8,400 tons. The authors of the report from the German Addiction Center (DHS) attribute this to the popularity of special hookah tobacco, which is mainly smoked by teenagers and young people. At the same time, the consumption of classic tobacco in this age group continues to decline. If almost a third of German teenagers smoked two decades ago, in 2018 (latest data) their number dropped to 7 percent.

How the Germans fight smoking

Since 1991, a number of legislative measures have been adopted in Germany to combat smoking. So, the age threshold was raised: tobacco products can now be purchased from the age of 18. Manufacturers are required to place warning labels and images of smokers’ organs on cigarette packages. It was also decided to raise the tax on tobacco products. This year, a pack of cigarettes has risen in price by an average of 10 cents, then the price will be even higher – first by 10 cents, and then by 15 cents, and so on until 2026. Now, on average, Germans pay a little more than seven euros for a pack of cigarettes. Tobacco for hookah and heaters has also become more expensive, and since July liquids for electronic cigarettes will rise in price.

AT in public places Smoking (including e-cigarettes) is only permitted in designated areas. By the way, at the station, anyone who throws an empty pack of cigarettes into a garbage can will face a fine of 40 euros. Banned in Germany since 2007 tobacco advertising in print media and the Internet. Since last year, ads can no longer be shown in theaters before films for children under 18. In addition, tobacco manufacturers are prohibited from giving away free samples, for example at festivals, concerts or in a pedestrian zone. The ban on advertising posters at bus stops and cigarette billboards is effective from this year, and then it will be introduced for tobacco heaters and vapes. In the future, only specialized tobacco shops will be able to place outdoor advertising in their windows.

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