World No Tobacco Day: tobacco consumption in 2022

Beatrice Borghi - May 31, 2022
consumer behavior society tobacco

World No Tobacco Day: tobacco consumption in 2022

World No Tobacco Day - PXR Italy

Every year, 31 May is World No Tobacco Day. In 1998, the World Health Organisation (WHO) established this day to remind people of the harmfulness of tobacco consumption and the consequences it brings to health. Year after year, the tobacco industry is enriched with new products that have a harmful impact not only on the body of those who use them, but also on the ecosystems on our planet.

More than 8 million people lose their lives each year due to the consumption of tobacco and tobacco products. In addition, its cultivation, production, distribution and post-consumer waste worsen the environmental conditions of the earth itself (data: But what is the situation of the tobacco market in the world and in Europe? And how is the use of tobacco and tobacco products changing among consumers? Let the data tell us.

An overview of Europe

In Europe, tobacco is the leading cause of premature death, accounting for almost 700.000 deaths each year. In addition, 50% of smokers die prematurely, on average 14 years earlier than non-users.

The European Commission has launched several initiatives to help people quit smoking, raising awareness on this issue of fundamental importance for the health of individuals. One of these is Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable: the campaign, launched in 2011 and still running today, consists of a digital coach designed to help users achieve goals through small daily challenges. All this through an app, available in no less than 23 different languages, for both Apple and Android devices.

According to a 2007 report by the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe, 40% of men and 18.2% of women smoked daily, a decrease from 2002, when it was 40.9% and 17.8% respectively. In 2019, according to an analysis by Eurostata, the percentage of the European population that consumes tobacco is 18.4%, of which 12.6% say they smoke cigarettes regularly (around 20 per day). There has been considerable progress in recent years, although the percentage of smokers remains high. In fact, in 2022, 26% of the population and 29% of 15-24 year olds will be daily tobacco users (data: European Commission).

Tobacco in Italy: data on young people

According to a study by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, in collaboration with the Mario Negri Pharmacological Institute, which was presented on the occasion of the last World No Tobacco Day - 31 May 2021 - one in three young people between the ages of 14 and 17 has already had contact with tobacco smoke and 42% with electronic cigarettes.

The survey was carried out on a sample of 2775 students between the ages of 14 and 17. First contact with tobacco is crucial and often already determines future behaviour. 20,1% of young people used the electronic cigarette as their first product, 2,3% started with heated tobacco and 77,6% with the traditional cigarette.

We see similar trends in the consumption of cannabis, which is now illegal in Italy. 1,1 % of non-smokers and 2,2 % of non e-cigarette users reported smoking cannabis. The greatest increase, however, can be seen in e-cigarettes and heated tobacco cigarettes: the former have seen an increase of 616% in the last four years - from 2017 to 2020 - and the latter an increase of 1089%. In fact, since heated tobacco cigarettes have been on sale on the market, the trade in traditional cigarettes has dropped by 4,5%.

The most frequently used methods of tobacco consumption

The Eurispes-Enpam Observatory on Health, Welfare and Legality has carried out several surveys over the years, attempting to investigate more closely the most common attitudes of smokers. These surveys are based on responses to a sample survey of Italian citizens; it emerged that traditional cigarettes are still the most popular (81,4%), followed by cut tobacco (28,2%) and electronic cigarettes (20,8%).

Cigar and pipe users also increased in 2019, while for heated tobacco products, there was an increase in uptake of about three percentage points compared to 2018, with 7,2% of users.

How many would like to quit?

Tobacco users often have habits that are difficult to break away from.

Again based on the study by the Eurispes-Enpam Observatory on Health, Welfare and Legality, almost a third of the sample surveyed - which equates to 30,5% - stated that they should stop smoking but do not want to. Another interesting fact is that 21,9% of people have no intention of quitting, while 12,3% would like to quit but not in the short term.

Despite the difficulty of quitting smoking, there was some willingness to change in 2019. 40,4% of tobacco users are willing to quit, or use a less harmful product.

Quitting smoking is possible: how to do it?

There are several strategies for quitting smoking. Among the most popular are pharmacological therapies, based on nicotine substitutes (such as Bupropion, Varenicline and Cytisine) that help smokers alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Or psychological support from specialised professionals, which can be combined with group therapies with sharing of stories among smokers.

The Ministry of Health has made available a list of 10 expert tips for quitting - or trying to quit - smoking. Let's look at them together.

  1. Quitting smoking is possible.
  2. The craving for a cigarette lasts only a few minutes.
  3. The withdrawal symptoms subside already in the first week; inform your friends and relatives of your decision so that they can support your decision.
  4. Already 20 minutes after quitting smoking, the first beneficial effects occur.
  5. Remember that not everyone gains weight when quitting smoking and in any case the weight gain is moderate (2-3 kilos).
  6. When quitting smoking it is a good idea to drink plenty, reduce sugar and fat consumption, increase fruit and vegetable consumption and move more.
  7. If you cannot quit on your own, talk to your family doctor.
  8. Specialist support and some medications are good help: your doctor can refer you to the nearest anti-tobacco centre.
  9. Relapses should not discourage you; they can help you recognise and cope with critical moments.
  10. Not smoking enriches you not only in health, but also economically and safeguards the health of those around you, especially children.

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