Is it too soon to hope for a tobacco free Romania?

Smoking UN.jpg

UN News/Yasmina Guerda Close to 7 million people die every year from tobacco-related illnesses according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Alexandru-Constantin Sîrbu, Horea Chirilă and Teodor Blidaru, three 5th year medical students from Romania, currently leading the Romanian Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (FASMR), a national member organization of IFMSA. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Romania has seen major changes regarding tobacco cessation policies in recent years, including a ban on smoking in public places, but are those even working? To actually understand the phenomenon we need some context.

On June 6, 2002 the law No. 349 was adopted, being the primary piece of legislation regulating smoking in public places. Even though the law was amended several times, the most important change came in March 2016, through the form of Law No. 15/2016, when the ban on smoking in public places was extended to fit the norms of most of the EU countries. The year 2016 was a major victory for tobacco control also because Law No. 201 forced the producers to replace the packaging and labeling of tobacco products. (1)

Since 2016 smoking is prohibited on public transport and in all indoor public places and workplaces. Before this year of change, smoking was allowed in public places like cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs.

The Romanian law prohibits most forms of direct advertising. This includes TV, radio, print media, and outdoor advertising, but the law allows advertising at the point of sale, including special offers for the buyers.

The price of tobacco products have increased regularly, now the price of one pack of 20 cigarettes being 4 euros. Also the price increases seems the be the the most efficient anti-tobacco policy for the romanian population, accounting for almost half of the smoking cessation in Romania. (2)

And yet, there is a constant problem.

According to a WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic published in 2008 smoking prevalence in young adults is 18.9% and in adults it reaches 30%. (3)

But the 2017 report from the WHO shows even more troubling data.

The young males smoking rates are 20% and female are 17% with a mean (not shown in the report) of 18.5%. Regarding adults, 26.7% of them are still smokers. (4)

This actually shows that after extensive legislation changes, including public space ban, the smoking rate barely dropped in Romania.

Furthermore, there have been extensive media campaigns to cease smoking and also many health centers provide smoking cessation support that is covered by the government.

So has the new legislation and anti-tobacco changed anything? Well, technically we can’t say. Even though we have new laws, they have been adopted quite recently (2016) and regarding the chronic use of tobacco things never changed overnight. Furthermore the data in the 2017 WHO reports was gathered in December 2016, so the time passed between the changes and the survey was short.

We have hope though, because the laws set in place are actually properly followed and not abiding to them has more than often ended up with financial sanctions. Public space ban was a strong step and with more NGOs and medical professionals advocating for even more strict tobacco control measures, we are paving the way for a cigarette free Romania in the near future.

References:

  1. Romanian laws: 15/2016, 348/2002
  2. Health impact of tobacco control policies in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)(Fact Sheet)
  3. WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2008
  4. WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017
  5. http://2035faratutun.ro/
  6. Romanian Multiannual Plan for Education and Health
  7. Romanian National Health Strategy

About the authors

Alexandru-Constantin Sîrbu, Horea Chirilă and Teodor Blidaru are three 5th year medical students from Romania, currently leading the Romanian Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (FASMR), a national member organization of IFMSA. Since 2016, FASMR has represented medical students in high level national forums and has stated the importance of a more comprehensive tobacco control policy. Alexandru, Horea and Teodor are No Tobacco Ambassadors and have been part of the NGO network that advocated for changing the tobacco law.

 

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Catalysing change for gender equality, co-authored by two United Nations Under-Secretary Generals

Vaccination: understanding the challenges surrounding COVID-19 vaccination campaigns

How cities are failing to be inclusive – and what they can do about it

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

Total US cases quadruple in one week – Today’s coronavirus updates

How wealthy people transmit this advantage to their children and grand children

Amazon sinks while our breath sinks

Sudan Partnership Conference: EU mobilises more support for Sudan’s transition

Feeding families remains complex task in war-torn Syria – UN relief agency

Worldwide consumer confidence has shot up to its highest level for four years according to a survey of 130 Global Retail leaders

4 steps to using AI in an environmentally responsible way

Three experts on why eradicating plastic pollution will help achieve gender equality

What happens when you toss your water bottle in the trash?

Traditional finance is failing millennials. Here’s how investing needs to change

Falling inflation urges ECB to introduce growth measures today

Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders ready for talks with UN chief on improved relations

Young people are not a nameless, faceless mass. So why do we treat them as such?

World Retail Congress Dubai 2016: Retail’s night of nights

More answers from Facebook ahead of Parliament hearing today

Competition: Commission invites stakeholders to provide comments on the application of EU competition law to collective bargaining agreements for self-employed

Hunger in Yemen: WFP considers aid suspension in face of repeated interference by some Houthi leaders

The silent code blue- a call for health worker’s safety

How do we upskill a billion people by 2025? Leadership and collaboration will be key

Portugal: €4.66 million in aid for 1,460 dismissed workers and jobless young

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

Flying cars and driverless buses – the future of urban mobility has landed

Restoring prospect of peace in Middle East is ‘our shared responsibility’ UN envoy tells Security Council

‘Make healthy choices’ urges UN agency, to prevent and manage chronic diabetes

Why diversity needs your star power, as well as sponsors

Nordic companies prove doing good is good for the bottom line

Final turnout data for 2019 European elections announced

Why your next car is a bike

Islamophobia is driving more US Muslims to become politically engaged, suggests report

State aid: Commission approves €400 million of public support for very high-speed networks in Spain

Rule of law conditionality: MEPs strike a deal with Council

Governments should step up their efforts to give people skills to seize opportunities in a digital world

Gaza blockade causes ‘near ten-fold increase’ in food dependency, says UN agency

Abuse of authority provisions adopted by the Senate raise concerns over Brazil’s capacity to ensure independence of prosecutors and judges in fighting corruption

EU Elections: new rules to prevent breaches of data used to influence elections

Tackling Youth Unemployment

The EU can afford to invest trillions in support of employment

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Third review welcomes progress while identifying steps for improvement

10 technology trends to watch in the COVID-19 pandemic

Eurozone business activity again on upwards path

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register 2 new initiatives

Afghanistan: UN condemns blasts that leave 8 dead at cricket stadium

The racial wealth gap in the US is affecting its citizens and its economy – this is how

On sidelines of UN climate summit, US President calls for protection of religious freedom

Better air pollution data is helping us all breathe easier. Here’s how

Criminals thrive on data abundance – here’s how we’ll catch them

Humanitarian visas would reduce refugees’ death toll

A European young student shares his thoughts on Quality Education

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission takes first step to launch negotiations with the United Kingdom

Our indispensable problem: the paradox of modern plastics

Consumers and businesses to save money thanks to new EU cross-border payments rules

Education critical to ensure future of forests, and reverse their destruction

This wristband tells you what food to buy based on your DNA

InvestEU Fund: boost for sustainable, innovative and social investment

Quality of Europe’s bathing waters remains high, latest annual assessment finds

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s