Marking World No Tobacco Day on May 31, Bulgaria’s Health Ministry said that amid the isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, many smokers had decided to give up smoking.
“At the same time, overcoming tobacco dependence is not so easy, especially given the additional stress of the socio-economic difficulties of the pandemic.”
The ministry highlighted the availability of counselling at all regional health inspectorates on giving up smoking, while pointing to research showing that Bulgaria has the highest percentage of smokers in the European Union.
The European Commission’s State of Health in the EU report for 2019 cited this statistic, and said that tobacco use contributed to 21 per cent of deaths in Bulgaria.
The report said that in the EU, Bulgaria had the second-highest percentage of adolescent girls who smoked.
In Bulgaria, 37.4 per cent of the population over the age of 20 are active smokers, according to the National Centre of Public Health and Analyses.
“Progress has been made in recent years on tobacco control, but it remains a major public health problem,” the Health Ministry said.
Separately, Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in a statement to mark World No Tobacco Day that the Covid-19 crisis had highlighted the vulnerability of smokers, who have up to a 50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease and death from the virus, a fact that has triggered millions of them to want to quit tobacco.
“But quitting can be difficult. We can do more to help, and this is precisely what this year’s World Tobacco Day is about – committing to quitting,” Kyriakides said.
“We need to increase the motivation to leave smoking behind. Stopping smoking is a win-win situation at all ages, always. We need to step up our game and ensure that EU tobacco legislation is enforced more strictly, especially as regards sales to minors and campaigns on giving up smoking,” she said.
It also needs to keep pace with new developments, be sufficiently up to date to address the endless flow of new tobacco products entering the market, Kyriakides said.
“This is particularly important to protect younger people. My message is simple: quitting is saving your life: every moment is good to quit, even if you have been smoking forever,” she said.
(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian/sxc.hu)
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