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HEALTH

Tobacco laws ineffective in reducing smoker figures

Stricter laws have not brought down numbers Survey shows rise in smokers, to 20 percent of population

Smokers outside a Madrid bar.
Smokers outside a Madrid bar.SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ

Stricter laws on smoking have not been sufficient to reduce the number of smokers in Spain. This is the conclusion of a survey carried out by the Spanish Society of Neumology and Thoracic Surgery (Separ), a year after a blanket smoking ban was introduced last year. The results showed that there has been slight rise in the number of smokers aged 13 and above, to 20 percent of the population.

“The prevalence [of smokers] is not influenced by the law,” said Separ vice president Juan Antonio Riesco, who added that smoking among younger people is on the rise, “which indicates that prevention is not working.” Among children, nine percent are passive smokers and of these, 51 percent are exposed to smoke in their own home.

The survey showed that 22 percent of men and 18 percent of women smoke, with consumption showing a “slight decrease” to 12 cigarettes a day on average. Riesco said that during the past 12 months only 27 percent of smokers had tried to quit; 14 percent of these didn’t last 24 hours and 72 percent fell back on the habit within four weeks.

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