Greece set an ambitious target for its anti-smoking campaign on World No-Tobacco Day on Monday. According to a social media post by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece will strive to reduce smoking in its population by at least another 30 percent by the year 2025.
Greece’s anti-smoking campaign
In his social media post, Mitsotakis highlighted that the Hellenic Parliament has already passed 21 laws with the goal to minimize smoking in the country.
Lawmakers see these laws as a necessity in Greece, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced earlier this year that according to their data, more than 42 percent of Greek people still currently smoke tobacco.
In the Prime Minister’s Facebook post, he proclaimed, “No-Tobacco Day is a day in support of life. We welcome it with a sense of pride because the law we passed, which many challenged, is now a reality. And because we have proven that yes, we can change the habits that hurt ourselves and everyone around us.
“However, anti-smoking is a constant aim for life and culture. That is why the 21 actions of the Hellenic State against tobacco are not enough. It is also necessary for all of us to change our daily behavior, so that by 2025, smokers in Greece have been reduced by at least 30%.
“The change from addiction to health is a breath of fresh air. That is why we extinguish the cigarette and light the flame of life,” Mitsotakis urged.
Smoking cut by half in Greece over the last decade
Although Greece’s newest anti-smoking target may appear to be difficult to achieve, much of the work has already been done.
Smoking was reduced by 52.4% overall over the last ten years, according to new ELSTAT data, and crucial gains were made in the 14-16 demographic.
As of September of 2019, 24.9% of adults in Greece reported that they smoked more than one cigarette per day. Almost four percent, or 3.7%, reported that they were “occasional” smokers, who smoked less than seven cigarettes per week.
Using information from 8,500 Greek households gleaned from studies in 2009, 2014 and 2019, experts say that the number of daily smokers decreased by 24.5% and occasional smokers decreased in number by an impressive 38.3% over that time.
However, in the crucial younger demographic, those under the age of 24 are increasingly less likely to smoke, with reductions amounting to a whopping 52.4% over those years.
Professor Panagiotis Behrakis, the chairman of the Committee of Experts of the Ministry of Health for smoking and director of the Institute of Public Health of the American College of Greece, remarked on the results.
Referring to the ELSTAT survey on smoking habits, he stated that the results “confirm recent historical trends in Greece.”
Behrakis stated that nevertheless, the country is moving toward the European Union goals of smoking reduction and cessation. He reiterated that his directive, named “SmokeFreeGreece,” will continue with its mission to persuade Greek citizens to stop smoking, and for young Greeks to never begin smoking.