Fight against smoking: more effort needed

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Berlin – Taking into account the enormous social and health consequences of smoking, the… Federal Government Drug Commissioner, Burkhard Blienert (SPD), for the end of new purchasing incentives. The SPD politician said he “didn’t want to ban anyone from smoking”.

“But in 2024, full-color tobacco and e-cigarette advertising images could still be used at every gas station or supermarket checkout, which is simply not possible.” always remembers the cigarette again.

Blienert said, referring to the study data: “The fact that fewer and fewer young people smoke is excellent news. However, Germany still has a huge problem.” “Every year, around 127 thousand people die as a result of tobacco and nicotine consumption and, every year, smoking costs our economy well over 100 billion euros.”

The drug commissioner warned: “We should urgently set an example of how seriously the issue of smoking is discussed in other countries. Effective means would be no advertising, no sponsorship, more help to quit smoking, more consistent anti-smoking measures.” protection against smoking for parents, for example, who smoke in the car in the presence of children, “and at some point higher taxes on tobacco”.

Blienert spoke out in favor of banning disposable electronic cigarettes. “These products present a high risk of addiction and are extremely harmful to the environment.” They led young people to become addicted to nicotine, which they would never be able to free themselves from after 30 or 40 years. Waiting for sales through European channels to be banned at some point cannot be the way forward.

Support comes from a coalition of health organizations calling for a ban on the sale of cigarettes in supermarkets and gas stations. Instead, tobacco products and e-cigarettes should only be sold in licensed specialty stores, said Katrin Schaller of the German Center for Cancer Research (DKFZ) in Heidelberg.

“Products that are dangerous to health are still very present in everyday life – people are exposed to the incentive to buy when they are in the checkout line at the supermarket or gas station.” extremely important. Currently, point-of-sale advertising is still permitted.

The DKFZ, together with the Non-Smoking Alliance (ABNO) and other organizations wrote a letter to the Bundestag members of the traffic light coalition, in which they called for tough measures against tobacco consumption.

In the 2021 coalition agreement, the parties agreed to strengthen regulations for nicotine marketing and sponsorship. “Very little has happened since then, the coalition has not delivered,” said Schaller. Smoking still causes enormous damage to health and thousands of deaths every year. “The State must do more to reduce tobacco consumption to a minimum.”

Demand for standard packaging

DKZF and other organizations are also in favor of standardized packaging for tobacco products – brands should no longer be recognizable. “All packaging must be olive green and contain the brand name in the same font,” explained Schaller.

“Packaging is also an advertising space that has no place in public – that’s why there should be standardized packaging.” This should also apply to tobacco heaters and electronic cigarettes – they also pose health risks, Schaller emphasized.

There is already a ban on advertising tobacco products and e-cigarettes on the internet. According to the DKFZ’s findings, legal violations frequently occur. “Electronic cigarettes and tobacco heaters are still very present on social media,” complained Schaller.

Children and young people, in particular, may be influenced by this and want to try these products. “The State must take tougher measures against these violations and impose a ban on Internet advertising,” she demanded.

The tobacco industry does not believe in new bans

The tobacco industry is reacting to the anti-smoking campaign by shaking its head. Jan Mücke from the Federal Association of the Tobacco Industry and New Products (TVB) highlighted that the industry’s advertising options had already been restricted since the beginning of the year, electronic cigarettes could no longer be advertised on posters;

Taking into account the very selective perception of relevant advertising in public spaces, it cannot be assumed that new bans will contribute to a reduction in smoking rates.

He also warned that retailers would lose important revenue from such an advertising ban. In the BVTE’s opinion, the obligation to use standardized packaging would be unconstitutional because it would destroy trademark rights and devalue trademark ownership.

In the opinion of industry representative Mücke, no further bans are necessary; on the contrary, the State must consistently apply applicable rules; This particularly affects the widespread use of e-cigarettes among young people. BVTE calls for the introduction of a reporting portal where citizens can easily inform authorities about violations.

World No Tobacco Day on May 31 will be celebrated under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) point out the dangers of tobacco consumption. This year the motto is “Protect children from the influence of the tobacco industry”.

A study by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) showed that the proportion of young people who smoke has decreased since 2001. “Smoking is still prohibited for the majority of young people”, concluded the acting head of the BZgA, Johannes Nießen.

The proportion of young male smokers fell from 27.2 percent in 2001 to 9.3 percent in 2015 and was 7.2 percent in 2023. Among female smokers aged 12 to 17, the proportion fell from 27.9 percent in 2001 to 6.1 percent in 2016. In 2023 it was 6.4 percent.

The proportion of smokers also fell among young people aged 18 to 25. In 2023, 33.6% of young men and 18.4% of young women smoked. In 2001, 46.7 percent of men and 42.2 percent of women in this age group did this.

Disposable versions of e-cigarettes are popular: almost seven percent of people aged 12 to 17 and twelve percent of people aged 18 to 25 used these products in the 30 days prior to the survey. For the study, 7,001 people aged 12 to 25 were interviewed between April and June 2023.

Disposable e-cigarettes are particularly attractive to young people, “probably because they are very small, colorful and cheap,” said Federal Government Commissioner for Addiction and Drug Issues Burkhard Blienert. Furthermore, almost 127 thousand people still die every year as a result of tobacco consumption.

This also includes deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Lung cancer is still the second most common type of cancer in men and the third most common in women in Germany. © dpa/

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