World No Tobacco Day: Germany is only hesitantly fighting against smoking

World No Tobacco Day: Germany is only hesitantly fighting against smoking

Tens of thousands of people die every year in Germany as a result of smoking. But Germany is struggling with the fight against nicotine.

According to experts, Germany is not exactly a role model when it comes to protection against tobacco smoke and serious secondary diseases. There are already many smoking bans in place, for example on public transport or in public authorities, but in an international comparison many countries do better in the fight against nicotine.

Example: supermarkets. Tobacco products can still be bought in this country without any problems, also at kiosks or in petrol stations. Many other countries are already further ahead or at least have concrete plans as to when a ban should be implemented. For example, starting next year, Dutch supermarkets will generally no longer be able to sell cigarettes and other tobacco. On World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the discussion picks up speed.

Comparatively low tobacco tax, many exceptions to the smoking ban

Critics consider the tobacco tax in Germany to be too low. The World Health Organization (WHO) even called Germany one of the “problem children” worldwide. Only in 2022 – for the first time in seven years – did a gradual increase in tobacco tax come into force. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of taxed cigarettes fell by 8.3 percent to 65.8 billion in the same year. According to the statisticians, one reason may be the tobacco tax increase, but many health experts do not consider this to be sufficient and refer to Australia: There, in 2022, a pack of cigarettes cost an average of more than 27 euros, in Germany it was around seven. “We know that high prices mean fewer smokers,” said Rüdiger Krech, WHO director for health promotion.

There is also clear expert criticism of the German regulations in other areas: the smoking ban in pubs and restaurants is interpreted differently. An absolute smoking ban applies only in Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland. In other federal states there are exceptions: Here you can smoke in separate rooms, there smoking is allowed in small pubs that do not serve food. Who else gets through? The non-smoking initiative Germany complains about a “patchwork of regulations”. According to her, a strict nationwide smoking ban would be necessary. The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) also warns that half-hearted solutions could also result in smoke moving into adjoining rooms – putting non-smokers at risk.

The proportion of smokers among young people is increasing

The latest statistics show that the proportion of young smokers in Germany has risen sharply. Eleven percent of 16 to 29-year-olds described themselves as regular smokers, in 2020 it was only six percent, the Funke media group reported on a representative Forsa survey commissioned by the commercial health insurance company (KKH). “The fact that young people in particular are smoking more and more regularly is worrying,” says Michael Falkenstein, KKH expert on addiction issues. But what to do? The federal government’s addiction and drug commissioner, Burkhard Blienert, is in favor of further advertising restrictions. “The free dispensing of heaters, e-cigarettes and vapes should be a thing of the past, as should advertising on billboards and sponsorship by the nicotine industry.”

But are such measures enough? The World Health Organization (WHO) starts much earlier and more globally. She calls for an end to government subsidies for growing tobacco in many countries. “Tobacco is responsible for eight million deaths a year, and yet governments around the world spend millions to support tobacco farms,” ​​criticized WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva. Plants to feed the world’s population should be grown instead of tobacco, which is harmful to farmers and smokers.

In its World No Tobacco Day report, the WHO also highlights some European growing countries such as North Macedonia, one of the top 20 tobacco exporters in the world. There, tobacco cultivation is subsidized with up to 2507 dollars (about 2336 euros) per hectare, while wheat is supported with a maximum of 269 dollars. In Switzerland, tobacco farmers received more than $32 million in subsidies between 2015 and 2020. In the USA and Argentina, several hundred million dollars of taxpayer money flowed into tobacco cultivation during this period. In total, tobacco plants grow on 3.2 million hectares in 124 countries worldwide.

Dog featured in New Zealand anti-smoking campaign video

Long fight against smoking in Germany

In Germany, the long fight against smoking goes back to the 1970s and 1980s, when cigarettes were gradually no longer seen as a stimulant, but increasingly as a health hazard. The result was, among other things, that dangerous ingredients – above all tar, but also nicotine and condensate – were gradually reduced.

At that time, advertising bans or advertising restrictions began – initially voluntary – for television, radio and finally also for cinemas and in newspapers and magazines. There was a child and youth protection clause, which also ensured that cigarette vending machines on street corners disappeared more and more. Finally, tobacco products were still accessible in shops and supermarkets at the monitored tills or in kiosks and petrol stations.

Smoking bans on airplanes have been in place since the late 1990s. The non-smoker protection law of 2007, which was the basis for the smoking ban in the workplace, in public facilities, Deutsche Bahn trains and in restaurants, brought a deep cut for the tobacco industry.

Since 2016, warnings plus shock photos have taken up two-thirds of cigarette packaging. Advertising bans for tobacco and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine in print media followed. Advertising on the Internet, radio and television, for example, is also prohibited.

Source: Stern

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

Institute visits Independiente on date 6

Institute visits Independiente on date 6

September 24, 2023 – 00:30 The preview of Independiente’s clash against Instituto, to be played at the Caldera del Diablo today from 3:00 p.m. (Argentine