How bad is social smoking

Above all, the socially disadvantaged smoke

The current status of smoking as well as trends that arise, for example, as a reaction to political measures, are to be recorded. For the current analysis, the answers of 12,273 people from the past two years were used.

According to this, 28.3 percent of the population in Germany smoke; among the under-18s, however, it is significantly less at 11.9 percent. The proportion of smokers in the population varies depending on the federal state. It is lowest in Hesse with 18.1 percent, and highest in Brandenburg with 42.6 percent. On average, a smoker inhales the smoke of 14.1 cigarettes per day.

Linear relationship

In the survey, there was a linear relationship between school leaving certificate and income as a surrogate for social status and the proportion of smokers in the respective population group. The lower the status, the more people smoked: 41.6 percent of those without a school leaving certificate smoked, and less than half as many (20.0 percent) of those with a university entrance qualification. According to the authors, a quarter to half of the health disparities in the population can be attributed to smoking. The poorer state of health and the higher mortality of socially disadvantaged people in Germany are thus decisively caused by tobacco smoking.

Although the negative consequences of smoking should be well known by now, only a little less than a third of smokers attempted to quit in the year before the survey (28.1 percent). It is noteworthy that e-cigarettes were used most frequently, namely by 9.1 percent of those willing to quit - although from a scientific point of view there is still too little evidence that nicotine vaporizers are suitable for this, the authors write.

The vast majority of those who tried to quit, however, relied on sheer willpower (87.5 percent). From the authors' point of view, this is also problematic, because only 3 to 5 percent of attempts to quit smoking without support are successful in the long term. Evidence-based methods of smoking cessation such as medical advice, behavioral therapy and the use of nicotine replacement preparations, varenicline or bupropion should therefore be given a higher priority in everyday medical practice.

The authors of the article do not limit themselves to describing the domestic situation, but also look to other European countries. They use data from the Eurobarometer from 2017, in which a slightly lower proportion of smokers was determined at 25 percent. With this value, however, Germany was just above the European average and compared with Sweden, where only 7 percent of the population smoked, had a more than three times higher proportion of smokers.

The authors suspect that the cause of Germany's poor performance in a European comparison is "insufficient implementation of tobacco control measures": Germany is now the only EU country that still allows outdoor advertising for tobacco products, there are smoking rooms in pubs and restaurants and also in cars that children travel with should still be smoked. Italy, Ireland and Finland, among others, are already setting a good example and in Austria, too, a smoking ban in the car when driving with minors will apply from May 1st.

Criticism of the government

In response to the study, the Federal Drug Commissioner Marlene Mortler announced that she wanted to make a new attempt to ban outdoor advertising for tobacco products. You will not let up in this matter, said the CSU politician of the "Passauer Neue Presse". In the last legislative period, the cabinet agreed on a draft law, according to which cigarette advertising on billboards, advertising pillars and in the cinema should be banned from July 2020. But the law was never passed. Above all, the Union faction opposed it. According to »Spiegel«, the Union also succeeded in deleting the sentence originally planned in the new coalition agreement »We will implement the ban on outdoor tobacco advertising«. This is reported by the dpa news agency. /