“Every cloud has a silver lining” – although this is not what the majority of the Greek people would like to hear right now – the saying is very true concerning the smoking habits of the Greeks. The debt crisis and its unbearable financial consequences are directly linked to the steady decline in smoking prevalance in Greece, where more and more people are consciously keeping their hands off their cigarettes for health and economic related reasons.
On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2012 to be celebrated around the world on Thursday, May 31, the President of the National Coordinating Committee Against Smoking and Pneumology Professor at the University of Athens Panayiotis Behrakis, presented on Wednesday the findings of a recent survey about the smoking habits of the Greeks.
For the fourth year in a row, the tendencies in the smoking habits of Greeks aged between 18 and 65-years-old suggest that there is a significant decline in tobacco consumption and exposure to passive smoking.
The overall annual tobacco use decreased by 800 million cigarettes (the findings reflect the number of single/individual cigarettes and not the one of packages). In contrast to the 3.1 million cigarettes sold across Greece in 2007, only 2.3 million were sold in 2011.
A respective decline is also witnessed in the daily tobacco consumption of Greeks. Within five years, from 2006 to 2011, the percentage of passionate smokers lighting more than 20 cigarettes per day has halved (from 32% to 16%), while smokers smoking maximum ten cigarettes per day have also significantly decreased (from 34% to 22%).
The 2011 tobacco skyrocketing taxation and the continuous cuts in wages and health benefits is leading many Greeks into the decision of giving up smoking.
Further findings reveal an important decline in smoking rates among young Greek adults. Men aged between 18 and 30 have reduced their smoking habit by 15.5%, while the same sample in women recorded an impressive slowdown in the rapid increase of female smokers, whose rates have been on the rise until 2006.
Moreover, according to Prof. Behrakis, educational and preventive initiatives taken in Greek schools against smoking proved particularly efficient in deterring young students from taking up smoking.
However, Greece lags behind in imposing the anti-smoking zones regulation. “Imposing the current smoking ban protecting Greek citizens in all enclosed public buildings and transport and catering establishments is crucial and has not yet been enforced. The Greek state has made up countless lame excuses to pretend it is unable to impose this public health ban but was able enough to impose a series of harsh economic measures,” noted the Professor.