Prague, Czech Republic – The number of smokers in the Czech Republic has been steadily decreasing during the past decade, a new study has found.
According to the National Institute of Public Health (SZÚ), the Czech Republic has seen an important drop in the number of smokers over the past seven years. In 2019, less than one-quarter of respondents over the age of 15 said they were smokers, one of the lowest rates on record.
The decrease has been particularly strong among young Czechs: while more than one-third of people aged 15 to 24 said they were smokers in 2017, this share dropped to 23% in 2019. A similar survey from last year had shown that the share of smokers in the Czech Republic temporarily increased in 2018, despite the introduction, the previous year, of a ban on smoking in public spaces (including bars, restaurants, etc.) which has now been in effect for nearly three years.
Health officials nevertheless noted the growing popularity, especially among young people, of alternatives such as electronic cigarettes, warning that they can be as dangerous and unhealthy as normal cigarettes despite what their marketing and advertising might suggest.
The Czech Finance Ministry also suggested to increase the excise tax – like it did last January – on cigarettes and other tobacco products every year by around 5% from 2021 to 2023 – a move supported by Health Minister Adam Vojtech (ANO).
Contrary to a few other EU countries, the Czech Republic is not considering introducing plain cigarette packaging for now.
A study last year had found that the Czech Republic, whose population has long been considered among the heaviest-smoking in Europe, ranked as the second freest and most lenient country in regards to tobacco and alcohol consumption. Germany came first, while neighbouring Slovakia completed the podium.
The results of the latest SZÚ study were released ahead of World No-Tobacco Day, celebrated annually on May 31.