Germany’s smoking rate rises to 33% after COVID pandemic

Despite public health initiatives, the proportion of people who smoke in Germany has actually increased in recent years, according to a new study.

The proportion of smokers on the rise in Germany

One in three people in Germany over the age of 14 now smokes, according to the long-term representative study “German Smoking Behavior Survey” by Debra. Statistics show that before the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019 and early 2020, 26-27% of the population smoked. By the end of 2021, this proportion had increased to 30.9%.

Daniel Kotz, epidemiologist and director of Debra, said the trend is a “frightening development”. He explained that the rise in smoking rates is likely a lasting effect of the pandemic, with restrictions on public life likely pushing people to seek out tobacco products.

Germany’s long road to becoming smoke-free

“Politicians have a lot to do if Germany wants to become tobacco-free by 2040,” Kotz said. Germany recently cracked down on tobacco advertising, raised the price of cigarettes and, for the first time, increased taxes on e-cigarettes. However, recent addiction reports show that there is still a long way to go.

A number of countries around the world are stepping up their efforts to become smoke-free. New Zealand recently took the drastic step of banning the sale of tobacco products to future generations, meaning young people under the age of 14 will never be able to legally buy tobacco products in the country. Closer to home, the The Netherlands is considering imposing legislation increase the price of a pack of cigarettes to 47 euros.

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