Tobacco Kills Over 11,000 Bulgarians in Six Months, Study Shows
Sofia, May 31 (BTA) - Between November 1, 2019 and May 1, 2020, tobacco smoking caused the death of 11,048 people in Bulgaria, while COVID-19 killed 68 persons, shows a study by the BlueLink foundation presented at a BTA-hosted news conference on the occasion of May 31, World No Tobacco Day. The comparative study also includes the latest data on tobacco smoking from the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission, and the National Centre of Public Health and Analyses.
According to the study, in the six-month period in question tobacco smoking resulted in 3,532,583 fatalities across the globe, while COVID-19 had 224,172 fatalities.
Hristo Ivanov, one of the study's authors, said that smoking in public areas incurs a fine of 300 to 1,000 leva for natural persons, while a violation of the measures against COVID-19 incurs a fine of 300 to 2,000 leva and criminal liability.
The study's authors believe that Bulgaria's institutions avoid committing enough to the prevention and control of tobacco smoking.
Dr Gergana Geshanova of the Smoke-Free Life Coalition said it is therefore a good idea to set up an inderdepartmental council comprising representatives of the Health Ministry and the Finance Ministry who should determine the effective policies on these topics.
Dr Mihail Okoliyski of the WHO Country Office in Bulgaria cited a study on children's health that shows Bulgaria is first among 45 European countries for the number of smokers aged between 11 and 13, and second for the number of smokers aged between 13 and 15. That is a threat to Bulgaria's national security because it has a direct impact on the reproductive system, he argued.
Dr Geshanova noted that Bulgaria also tops the European ranking for lack of parental support and commitment to the issue.
Dr Okoliyski also said that Bulgaria lacks health education for school and pre-school goers where the problem with tobacco smoking could be raised. A working group at the Education and Science Ministry is working on the introduction of health classes as of the next school year, he added.