Friday, 16 March 2012

Number of smokers rises despite year-old smoking ban

Teenage smoking on the rise
Declaration of interest: Prospero gave up 20 months ago
SPAIN A year ago on January 2, 2011, a ban on smoking in public places went into effect. It was the most severe in Europe at the time. But it has not diminished the number of smokers -on the contrary, that figure has risen- and neither has it prevented teenagers taking up the habit. This according to the Sociedad Española de Neumología y Cirugía Torácica (Spanish Society of  Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery, or Separ in the Spanish acronym), who presented the first extensive study on the subject since the law's inception. Thus, it calculates that 17.65 of the population smokes, 0.50% more than before the last report in 2007. The 3,300 people surveyed produced another "worrying" item: the trend among 13 to 16 year olds is on an upward curve. The only good news to come out of the report is that>>>38% of Spanish residents were subject to the effects of tobacco-contaminated air, whereas that figure is now 21%.

One of every three Spanish smokers, who consume an average of 12 cigarettes daily, has tried to give it up but only 6% of them have been successful; 14% of them smoked again within 24 hours and fully 72% within the first month. Only 12% sought medical help to kick the habit.

"The law has had no impact on the prevalence of the tobacco habit, which, on the contrary, has increased; nor any influence on the prevention of the habit, which has increased among the young," says Dr.Juan Antonio Riesco, Vice-President of Separ.

On the other hand, the law has had a positive effect on passive smoking, which in turn means that the law has had a positive effect overall. Spain has gone from 49.5% of non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke (data from before the first anti-smoking legislation of 2005)  to the present 21%. A "significant descent of 17 percentage points since the 2011 law," says Carlos Jiménez, coordinator of the study for Separ.

One of the most worrying figures, though, is that over 50% of children under 13 are subjected to contaminated air in their own homes. And the most dramatic descent in passive smoking is in offices and indoor leisure spots, which is attributable to the restrictions of the newer law. Passive smoking in the workplace went down from 26% before the old law to its present 6%; and in bars and restaurants, from 37.5% to 12%.

The study also revealed that 81% of non-smokers, 75% of ex-smokers and even 35% of smokers find it more pleasant to go to a bar now. And the typical Spanish passive smoker has the following profile: male, 34, lives in an urban environment and, above all, is subjected to smoke in his home.

Some of Separ's recommendations based on the report: to continue implanting anti-smoking measures such as price hikes, finance kicking the habit treatment, prohibit smoking in vehicles, increase inspections in bars and restaurants and even to 'make the toxic substance illegal'.

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