Friday, 15 December 2017

More daily drinkers, smokers among Czechs

ČTK |
5 December 2017

Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - An increasing number of people drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes every day in the Czech Republic, according to the latest annual report of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction (NMS).

About 27 percent of Czechs, or 2.4 million people aged over 15, smoke everyday last year. Five years ago, the portion of daily smokers was 23 percent.

In 2016, about 600,000 people drank alcohol every day and 100,000 of them drank it excessively, consuming five or more glasses.

NSM head Viktor Mravcik said the number of smokers has increased due to middle-aged people rather than the young generation, and all age groups are responsible for the higher number of daily drinkers.

He said the numbers of smokers and drinkers went up because tobacco and alcohol are easily available in the country.

Nearly 30,000 people die due to smoking and drinking every year, Mravcik said.

One in three Czech men and one in five women smoke every day, about 30 percent of them smoke at least a package of cigarettes a day. One fifth of smokers light a cigarette within five minutes after getting up in the morning, the report showed.

Mravcik said less risky alternatives to nicotine are not easily available in the Czech Republic.

Cigarettes can be bought everywhere even though they are the most risky use of nicotine, while the sale of the moist powder tobacco Snus is banned in the European Union. The risks of electronic cigarettes and other new products are emphasised so much that people view them in a distorted way, he said.

Awareness of the risks should be better so that nicotine addicts could move from classical cigarettes to less risky products, Mravcik said.

In 2016, 23 percent of men and 16 percent of women tried the electronic cigarette and about 8 percent used it regularly, especially young people.

Four of five men and three of five women drank alcohol at least once a month. One out of five men and one out of 15 women drank five or more glasses of alcohol on a single occasion at least once a week.

Alcohol addiction is a big risk for 900,000 people and about 1.6 million people may have problems with drinking. Last year, 415 people died of alcohol poisoning, compared to 342 in 2015 and 322 in 2014, according to the official registry of deaths. According to the register of forensic medicine, 148 people died because of alcohol and in 640 cases alcohol contributed to the death last year.

In 2016, the Czech state and regional and municipal authorities spent 1.54 billion crowns on anti-drug policy.

In 2015, 1.44 billion crowns were spent on anti-drug policy and 1.71 billion crowns from the health insurance covered the costs of treatment, mostly of alcohol addiction treatment.

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