Despite an overall decline in tobacco use among young people in Europe, several countries of the region observed an increase in tobacco use prevalence among young people in the latest round of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey.
While cigarettes remain the most used form of tobacco products, young people are turning to e-cigarettes at what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as “an alarming rate.” In some countries the rates of e-cigarette use among adolescents were much higher than those for conventional cigarettes, according to the new report. In Poland, for example, 15.3 percent of students smoked cigarettes and 23.4 percent used electronic cigarettes in 2016.
Some countries that monitor e-cigarette use among young people have shown marked increases over the years. In Italy the prevalence of current e-cigarette use increased from 8.4 percent in 2014 to 17.5 percent in 2018. In Georgia it increased from 5.7 percent in 2014 to 13.2 percent in 2017, while in Latvia it was 9.1 percent in 2011 and 18 percent in 2019.
Contrary to health advocates who acknowledge the tobacco harm reduction potential offered by new “tobacco” products, the WHO views e-cigarettes and heated tobacco as a tobacco industry ploy to preserve and expand its markets.
“However, with good guidance, research and a rigorous implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a path can be built towards a tobacco and nicotine-free future,” the global health body wrote on its website.