One hundred fifteen Romanians die daily because of smoking, according to data presented by the Romanian Society of Cardiology, the Romanian Society of Pulmonology, and the Romanian Heart Foundation, quoted by Hotnews.ro. This adds up to almost 42,000 yearly deaths.
At the same time, almost one in three young Romanians over 15 is a smoker. The country ranks fifth in Europe on the number of teenagers aged between 15 and 16 who smoked in the last month. The percentage of very young smokers in Romania is five times higher than that in the US, the three organizations said.
Smoking kills especially as lung cancer or cardiovascular diseases. Smoking is considered the No. 1 risk factor for a heart attack, while 85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking, the health bodies said. As a result, the life expectancy is 10 years shorter in the case of smokers, compared to that of non-smokers. It is estimated that in Romania, out of the total potential years of healthy life lost through various disabilities or premature death, 13% are due to serious illnesses induced by smoking.
Tobacco consumption is still relatively high in Romania, where 28% of those over 15 smoke, close to the European average of 26%, according to a 2017 Eurobarometer quoted by Hotnews.ro. Among men, 38% smoke, while 19% of women do the same. Although they smoke less than the Greek (37%) and the Bulgarians and French (36% each), Romanians smoke more than the Swedes (7%) and the Brits (17%), according to the same source.
Another survey, conducted by IRES in January 2016, showed that 82% of smokers begin smoking before reaching the age of 22, and half started smoking before turning 18.
The three health organizations are requesting legislative changes that “bring a solution to the public health emergency situation represented by tobacco consumption in Romania, especially among teenagers and the young.”
“Independent studies have shown, without a doubt, that smoking is one of the greatest dangers for public health and a major risk factor. […] We need legislative regulations that protect the non-smokers and encourage smokers to find a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Florin Mihălțan, a former president of the Romanian Society of Pulmonology, explained.
Data shows that Romania has made progress in this area in the past two years since the law forbidding smoking in closed public spaces came into force in 2016. According to a 2017 Eurobarometer, smoke exposure in bars dropped from 80% to 11%, while in restaurants it dropped from 59% to 6%. Within six months of the law being implemented, the number of hospital admission cases dropped between 5.4% and 11.5% for cardiovascular diseases and cerebral vascular accidents, according to data from the National School for Public Health. At the same time, the number of hospital admissions for smoke-caused flares dropped by 2,000 cases in adults and 700 cases in children, according to the same source.
The three health organizations say that the new challenge is the ostentatious promotion of new tobacco products, namely the electronic cigarette and the heated tobacco, which are presented as being less harmful than classical cigarettes.