With one in four smokers, the Maltese are among EU’s more prolific tobacco users

One in every four persons aged 15 or over in the European Union is a smoker… and 1 in 5 confronted by passive smoking

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Matthew Vella
7 December 2016, 11:41am
The Maltese are among the least likely in Europe to buy counterfeit cigarettes
The Maltese are among the least likely in Europe to buy counterfeit cigarettes
While slightly over three-quarters (76.0%) of those aged 15 or over living in the European Union (EU) were non-smokers in 2014, 19.2% smoked any kind of tobacco products on a daily basis and a further 4.7% on an occasional basis. In other words, nearly 1 in every 4 persons (24.0%) aged 15 or over in the EU was a current smoker in 2014.

The share of current smokers differs between genders, with a higher proportion of men (28.7%) smoking than women (19.5%) in the EU in 2014. 

In addition, slightly more than a fifth (21.6%) of the EU population aged 15 or over was exposed, on a daily basis, to tobacco smoke indoors.

Tobacco consumption is one of the largest avoidable health risks in the EU: many forms of cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases are linked to tobacco use.

This information, extracted from the European Health Interview Survey, is issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. 

Among the EU Member States for which data are available, the lowest shares of current smokers in 2014 among the population aged 15 or over were recorded in Sweden (16.7%) and the United Kingdom (17.2%), ahead of Finland (19.3%), Portugal (20.0%), Luxembourg (20.4%), Denmark (20.9%) and Germany (21.7%). At the opposite end of the scale, about 1 in 3 persons aged 15 or over was a smoker in Bulgaria (34.7%) and Greece (32.6%), followed by Austria (30.0%), Slovakia (29.6%) and Latvia (29.5%). 

Smoking more common amongst men 

In every EU Member State, the proportion of current smokers was higher among men than among women. The most significant gender gaps can be observed in Lithuania (40.3% for men compared with 12.3% for women, or +28.0 percentage points – pp), Romania (+27.3 pp), Cyprus (+24.7 pp), Latvia (+24.5 pp) and Estonia (+18.4 pp). At EU level, the share of current smokers was 9.2 percentage points higher for men (28.7%) than women (19.5%) in 2014.

Highest proportion of passive smokers in Greece,

Passive smoking, meaning the involuntary inhalation of somebody else’s tobacco smoke, is also a wide-spread source of adverse health effects. In the EU, around 1 in 5 persons (21.6%) aged 15 or over was exposed daily to tobacco smoke indoors in 2014, with large differences between Member States. Nearly two-thirds (64.2%) of the population in Greece were exposed daily to tobacco smoke indoors. High proportions of passive smoking were also registered in Croatia (44.7%), Bulgaria (40.5%) and Romania (37.6%). In contrast, the lowest shares were recorded in Sweden (5.9%) and Finland (6.3%), followed by Portugal (8.6%) and Hungary (9.9%). In these four Member States, passive smoking affected less than 10% of the population.

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Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.