Less smoke, longer life for Poles

July 05, 2002

Poles are changing their attitudes towards smoking. Smoking prevalence among women is halved and also substantially reduced among men. The result: Life expectancy is improving for the first time since the 1960's.

The results from Poland were presented at the 18th UICC International Cancer Congress in Oslo this week.

The rate of premature death in Poland is very high, especially among young and middle-aged adult men. Cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly half of this burden.

As a result of new tobacco legislation, smoking is now declining and life expectancy is improving. Provisions include a national programme for improvement of health through reduced smoking, cigarette packs with the biggest health warnings in Europe, protection of smoke-free workplaces and since December 2001 a total ban on tobacco advertising.

From the beginning of the 1980's until the turn of the century smoking among Polish men has decreased from 65 to 40 per cent. Among women the percentage has fallen from 40 to 20 per cent.

During the last decade life expectancy has improved considerably, increasing by nearly 4 years in men and over 3 years for women. These changes are in part due to reduced tobacco exposure.

"Tobacco-related diseases still remain the biggest threat to the health of Poles. Continuing to reduce the number of people inhaling tobacco smoke is still the biggest challenge to society", Witold Zantonskii, Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention, The Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center in Warsaw, Poland, said in his presentation on the Congress.

Norwegian Cancer Society

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