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Italy smoking rate falls but 1 in 4 still smokes

Italy issues new data on smoking habits ahead of World No Tobacco Day.

One in four adults in Italy smokes, with this figure rising to one in three among young people, according to a report by the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) for World No Tobacco Day.

The number of adults smoking in Italy has dropped by six per cent over the last 15 years, down from 30 per cent in 2008 to 24 per cent today.

The data showed that the majority of people in Italy aged between 18 and 69 do not smoke (59 per cent) or have kicked the habit (17 per cent).

"In the last 15 years the percentage of smokers has decreased, but too slowly" - said ISS president Rocco Bellantone - "This process must be accelerated by focusing on prevention, which must start from schools."

Smoking is more prevalent among young people, according to the ISS report, with just over 30 per cent of 18-25 year olds using either traditional cigarettes, heated tobacco products or electronic cigarettes.

The study showed that almost one in three teens between the ages of 14 and 17 (just over 30 per cent) had used a tobacco or nicotine product in the last 30 days.

The report found that teens had little problem buying tobacco, with the majority of those surveyed saying they purchased the products in person at the bar or from the tobacconist.

In about one in three cases, parents are aware that their children use a tobacco or nicotine-based product and appear to tolerate the use of the new electronic devices more than traditional cigarettes.

The battle to protect young people from the tobacco industry is reflected in the theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day which focuses on "advocating for an end to the targeting of youth with harmful tobacco products".

The ISS report showed that in Italy there are more men smoking than women (28 per cent versus 21 per cent), with the habit much more prevalent among people with economic difficulties, low education rates and in the central-southern regions.

The report also revealed a steady fall in the percentage of those who exclusively use traditional cigarettes (down from 25 per cent in 2014 to 20 per cent in 2023) with a rise in those who use both cigarettes and electronic devices.

There are more than 93,000 smoking-related deaths in Italy every year, costing the economy more than €26 billion annually, according to Alessandro Miani, president of the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (SIMA).

Smoking in Italy has been banned in public places including bars, restaurants and offices since 2005.

Photo credit: Stefano Carnevali / Shutterstock.com.

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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia