24% of the Czech population smoked tobacco products last year, according to a survey by the State Health Institute (SZU) released today. Another 10% of the population used electronic cigarettes, 6.6% used heated tobacco and 2.8% used nicotine sachets.
Electronic cigarettes and nicotine sachets are most popular among young people. According to Health Minister Vlastimil Valek (TOP 09), the number of smokers in the population is decreasing slightly. However, he said it was a negative development that young people who do not smoke conventional cigarettes are more likely to start using cigarette alternatives.
“I want us to delve more into the root causes of addiction,” Valek said. The latter is caused by nicotine, which is also present in cigarette packets and electronic cigarettes.
Valek said that while the alternatives were probably less risky than conventional cigarettes, they should not be for attracting new users. In some countries, they are used as a smoking cessation aid.
Long-term data on the health risks of cigarette alternatives were not yet available, Valek said. “But switching to alternatives is not quitting smoking,” added Zsofia Pusztai, head of the World Health Organization (WHO) office in the Czech Republic.
The study shows that the proportion of people using e-cigarettes has increased tenfold over the past decade. 10% of the population currently use e-cigarettes, twice as many as last year. Compared to 2019, twice as many people (6.6%) use heated tobacco.
“E-cigarettes and electronic sachets are the most popular among the youngest,” said Marie Nejedlova from SZU.
Among people aged 15 to 24, 9% use nicotine sachets, up by a third in two years, she said.
“In nicotine sachets, nicotine enters the body in much larger quantities, so the concentration of nicotine is likely to be much higher than in smokers of standard cigarettes,” Valek added.
Cardiologists warn that this leads to a high risk of blood vessels closing.
15.9% of respondents drink alcohol daily, according to the survey. Almost 47% of men drink beer weekly or more often, while 24% of women surveyed drink wine weekly.
Distilled spirits are drunk weekly by 14% of men and 5.4% of women. “Alcohol is considered the second most important risk factor for cancer after smoking,” said Barbora Mackova, director of the National Cancer Institute.
About 1,800 people responded to the survey. “This is data that people provide voluntarily in the questionnaire. We are aware that it may not correspond with the data reported by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on consumption,” she added.