Cyprus Mail

Cypriot students vape more than their EU counterparts

file photo: a man uses a vape device in this illustration picture

More students smoke electronic cigarettes in Cyprus than the European average according to a survey, the president of the Cyprus National Addictions Authority Dr Christos Mina said on Monday.

In his message on the occasion of the World No-Tobacco Day, marked annually on May 31, Mina said smoking is the number one public health problem worldwide and results in millions of preventable deaths.

In Cyprus, he said, based on the authority’s 2019 General Population Survey, about 4 in 10 Cypriots reported smoking in the last month, while the median age of smoking initiation was 18 years.

About half of smokers expressed a desire to quit smoking, with the largest proportion concentrated in the 45-54 age group.

“What is worrying”, he said, are the new trends in the use of new tobacco products such as hookah and e-cigarettes.

According to the results of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) 2019 student population survey, “Cyprus seems to be above average” in the daily use of e-cigarettes by students. Some 4.6 per cent of students in Cyprus compared to the ESPAD average of 3.1 per cent.

As for the use of hookah, ESPAD showed that compared to the other 34 countries, Cyprus is among the countries with the highest rates in the last month, namely 21 per cent, when the ESPAD average is at 8.9 per cent.

Despite significant progress in recent years, the proportion of smokers in the EU “remains high”, with 26 per cent of the total population and 29 per cent of young Europeans aged 15-24 years old smoking.

“Smoking is responsible for a number of chronic diseases and alterations in the human body and results in millions of preventable deaths every year on a global basis,” Mina noted.

He added that at least half of the world’s smokers die prematurely due to smoking, (on average 14 years earlier). At European level, it is estimated that 700,000 European citizens lose their lives annually due to smoking.

The national addictions authority, he said, in view of the negative impact of smoking on public health, included in its Action Plan 2021-2024, the Reduction and Prevention of Tobacco Use through ensuring the implementation and monitoring of tobacco control legislation with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the National Strategy for Tobacco Control 2021-2028, with regard to smoking, is based on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Cyprus signed in 2004.

Dr Mina also mentioned that the authority continues its anti-smoking campaign which this year is dedicated to the “European Citizens’ Initiative for a Tobacco-free Environment and the First European Tobacco-free Generation by 2030”. The aim is to collect one million signatures within one year (January 2023-January 2024) in at least seven Member States, “with the ultimate aim of the European Commission taking action by proposing legislation on tobacco dependence, acting against the related environmental risks and against smoking”.

“For Cyprus, our target is 4230 signatures,” he said and called on people to sign the petition to make a change for themselves and the future generation.

Smokers wishing to stop this unhealthy habit can call free of charge on 1431 to receive support.

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