Health improvement in Poland is contingent on continued extensive tobacco control measures
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Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Maria Skłodowska-Curie Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
Health Promotion Foundation, Warsaw, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2013;20(2):405–411
Tobacco smoking is a major avoidable single cause of premature mortality in Poland. Almost one in three Polish males do not live to 65 years of age, and almost half of this premature mortality can be traced back to the much higher smoking prevalence in Poland than in Western Europe – every third Polish male and every fourth Polish female smokes daily. However, the current health situation in Poland is much better than two decades ago when the country entered a period of political and economic upheaval. In the early 1990s, the state of health of the Polish population was catastrophic and its tobacco consumption levels the highest in the world. In the early 1990s, the probability of a 15-year-old Polish boy living to the age of 60 was not just twice lower than in Western Europe, but also lower than in China or India. The health policy of limiting the health consequences of smoking conducted by the European Union and, in the last two decades, by the Polish parliament and government, helped to stop this health catastrophe. In Poland, cigarette consumption has decreased by 30% since 1990, as did lung cancer mortality among males. Despite this progress, tobacco smoking remains the most serious health problem in Poland. Therefore, comprehensive tobacco control policy should not only be continued, but expanded and accelerated. The EU Tobacco Products Directive proposes a package of actions for reducing tobacco-related health harm in Europe. The Directive proposal is rational, science-and-evidence based, and grounded on the best practice examples from other countries. Both the Polish tobacco control law and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), ratified by Poland in 2006, oblige our country to support tobacco control, including all the initiatives taken by the European Union.
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