The Number of Smokers in Ukraine Decreased Significantly

An essential number of Ukrainian population has stopped smoking since 2005, two-thirds of current smokers would like to quit this bad habit and more than 90% of the population supports a complete ban on smoking in workplaces, according to data collected by Ukrainian researches.

Ukrainian smoking woman

“We are very satisfied with this result. But we can’t stop on it,” stated Nataliya Korol, a national survey officer from the World Health Organization’s Ukraine office.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) that was conducted between 2008-2010, provided not only detailed information about the country’s smoking rates, but also presented how they have changed since Ukraine’s parliament adopted in 2006 the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). FCTC was established by WHO as the world’s first international public health treaty in order to fight against the global smoking epidemic.

The findings showed that 28.8 % of Ukrainian adults smoke, half of whom are men. About 67.9 % of current smokers stated that they would like to stop smoking, while 40.5 % tried to quit in the past year. A significant number of adults, 93.1% declared they believe that smoking causes grave illness, while 86.3 % think that second-hand smoke is extremely dangerous. Merely less than 33 % of adults inhale secondhand smoke daily and 34% are exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplaces. Two-thirds of adults stated that they observed any anti-cigarette smoking information, and only 45.1 % noticed cigarette marketing.

Smoking untimely kills more than 100,000 people in Ukraine annually and is some 13% of the country’s disease burden. About 70% death related to smoking occur in the 35-69 age groups.

The fall in smoking rates has come despite a forceful tobacco lobby in the Ukrainian parliament that cuts across all political groups, stated officials who conducted the GATS studies. “This fall occurred due to effective measures that were introduced in Ukraine,” declared Mykola Polischuk, Ukraine’s former health minister.

However, according to lawmaker Lesiya Orobets her colleagues do not hurry in approving graphic warnings on the cigarette cartons in order to dissuade smokers. “My colleagues from parliament say that these graphic warnings are terrible,” she said.

Officials are worried that cigarette manufacturers will target teenagers now that adults appear to be cutting back on smoking. Indirect tobacco charges to Ukraine’s economy constituted about $3 billion in 2007.

In order to assure that young people don’t smoke and adults continue to kick this bad habit, Ukraine should increase excise duties on all tobacco products. “When cigarettes are cheaper that milk and bread, the most important is to increase taxes,” stated Hanna Hapko, the advocacy coordinator in Ukraine for the Campaign for Tobacco- Free Kids.

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