Austria's smoking rate among the world's highest: experts

08:45, May 27, 2010      

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Austrian experts sounded warnings Wednesday on the grim situation facing anti-smoking campaigns in the country, saying its smoking rate was among the world's highest.

About 2.5 million, or 60 percent, of those in the 20-50 age group were regular or occasional smokers in Austria, said Horst Olschewski, director of the Pulmonary Division at the Graz University Hospital.

"This is actually a world record," Olschewski told a press conference on a restaurant smoking ban ahead of the World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

About 24 percent of the boys around 15 years old smoke cigarrettes, as do 30 percent of the girls of the same age, both quite high, he said.

Otto Burghuber, former chairman of the Association of Pulmonologists Austria, said regular smokers account for 41 percent of those aged 15 to 20, with another 8 percent being occasional smokers.

Austria has had in place a ban on smoking in restaurants since early 2009, requiring all restaurants with a business floor area of more than 50 square meters to have non-smoking areas. Authorities were mulling over a plan to implement a full ban on smoking in restaurants.

Sylvia Hartl, vice president of the Austrian Association for Pneumology, called for a full ban on smoking in restaurants and prevention to be made an important part of national healthcare.

"Prevention (of smoking) should be given priority," she said.

She also called for the introduction of heavy duties on tobacco to make manufacturers pay for treatment of addiction.

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands have begun to implement free medical treatment to people who voluntarily giving up smoking.

The experts, however, acknowledged fighting smoking was not easy.

Only 19 percent of the respondents in a recent survey in Austria supported a full ban on smoking in restaurants.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:叶欣)

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