Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Smoking Habits and Attitudes in Students of the Third Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Smoking Habits and Attitudes in Students of the Third Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague

Article excerpt


On 19 January 2015, WHO launched the "Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2014" which provides the baseline for monitoring implementation of the "Global action plan for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) 2013-2020", aimed at reducing the number of premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025. Outlined in the action plan are 9 voluntary global targets that address key NCD risk factors including tobacco use, salt intake, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and harmful use of alcohol. The target 5 calls for a 30% relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15+ years (1, 2).

Urgent government action is needed to meet global targets to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases, and prevent the annual toll of 16 million people dying prematurely - before the age of 70 - from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes, according to a new WHO report. The report states that most premature NCD deaths are preventable. Of the 38 million lives lost to NCDs in 2012, 16 million or 42% were premature and avoidable. By investing just 1-3 US dollars per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs. For example, in Brazil, the NCD mortality rate is dropping 1.8% per year due in part to the expansion of primary health care (1).

In 2015, every country needs to set national targets and implement cost-effective actions. As concerns tobacco, WHO recommends following very cost-effective interventions that are also high-impact and feasible for implementation even in resource-constrained settings - reduce affordability of tobacco products by increasing tobacco excise taxes; create by law completely smoke-free environments in all indoor workplaces, public places and public transport; warn people of the dangers of tobacco and tobacco smoke through effective health warnings and mass media campaigns; ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (2). Turkey was the first country to implement all cost-effective, high impact measures for tobacco reduction in Europe. In 2012, the country increased the size of health-warning labels to cover 65% of the total surface area of each tobacco product. Tobacco taxes now make up 80% of the total retail price, and there is currently a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship nationwide. As a result, the country' saw a 13.4% relative decline in smoking rates from 2008-2012(1).

Treatment of tobacco use and dependence is mandated in Article 14 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) as a key component of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy. Tobacco dependence treatment is also recommended by WHO as part of a comprehensive package of essential sendees for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases in primary care in accordance to the revised draft of the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs (2013-2020) (3).

In recent years, the Third Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague has joined the policy of the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union in order to prevent and reduce smoking in faculty members and students - future health professionals. The following strategies have been developed in the main areas related to academic life - education, counselling, antismoking campaign, research, and restriction of smoking at the faculty and teaching hospital (4). Besides evidence-based knowledge on health consequences of smoking and using tobacco products and public health preventive strategies, brief tobacco interventions in primary care and tobacco dependence treatment have been included in the curriculum for medical and bachelor students at the Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague. The faculty also provides behavioural and pharmacological treatment of tobacco dependence to tobacco users among students and faculty staff. The following survey has been part of a comprehensive project aimed at prevention of tobacco use among students and faculty staff, implemented by the Third Faculty of Medicine. …

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