Bulgaria ranks first in terms of smoking in Europe, and our country has already surpassed even Greece, which until recently was first. This was announced by the chairman of the Coalition for a smoke-free life, Dr. Gergana Geshanova.
“Our country ranks first in mortality in Europe. Our population is aging and no one is teaching young people how to live healthily so they don’t get sick,” she pointed out, adding that a quarter of 16-year-olds smoke.
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“Back in 2006, Bulgaria signed, together with more than 180 other countries, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. 16 years have passed since then, and our country should have implemented everything under this convention a long time ago. However, we only do what the EU pressures us to do in terms of smoking,” said Geshanova.
According to her, there is no initiative or desire for the state to do something to improve the health of the people in Bulgaria. She and her colleagues insist that Bulgaria fulfill its obligations under the Framework Convention. That is why the civil mission team is already meeting with representatives of the political forces that are fighting to enter the parliament. Most of the parties have included in their programs measures related to health care and smoking, but they have several important requests from the organizations to fight this vice.
“First and foremost is the liquidation of outdoor advertising of tobacco products. Our country is one of the remaining 3-4 countries in Europe with billboards of tobacco products. The law in our country allows it, and this must be changed urgently. In shops, tobacco products are still displayed in a prominent place, most often behind the cash register, which is not the case in the West, because people are reminded to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products. Placing advertisements in a prominent place is unacceptable if we care about the health of our nation,” commented Dr. Geshanova.
According to her and her colleagues, the sponsorship of tobacco companies should be banned.
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The civil pressure team insists that more authorities such as the police, for example, be involved in the control of the smoking ban in closed public places, as is the case in Western Europe. The district health inspectorates involved in the inspections have very few employees who cannot supervise effectively.
Last but not least, the experts insist on increasing the excise tax on tobacco products, which is a powerful factor in limiting smoking. “If the price of cigarettes increases, first the more vulnerable part of the population will decide not to smoke,” said Gergana Geshanova, quoted by BTA.
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