Experts: Changes in smoking reduction policy are necessary and inevitable


The non diminishing number of smokers, the high health risks and death risks caused by smoking are reasons to believe that changes in the smoking reduction policy are necessary in Latvia. It is recommended that Latvia take into account the experience of other countries, ensuring that smokers have access to alternatives and information, concluded the seminar “Towards a smoke free society” organised by the Smoke Free Association.

The number of smokers in Latvia is constantly quite high. The risks caused by smoking, just like twenty years ago, are a significant cause of high morbidity and mortality rates in Latvia. Previous attempts to reduce the number of smokers with various restrictions have proven to be quite ineffective. Other countries have had a similar experience, so today in many places smoking reduction policies are undergoing significant changes as they are looking for new and more effective ways to reduce smoking. The new innovative approach is characterised by an emphasis on harm reduction and has already proven its effectiveness, for example, in Sweden and Great Britain.

The research “Use of tobacco and nicotine-containing products and smoking cessation” carried out by the research centre SKDS in 2022 shows that more than one third of the population (35%) uses tobacco and nicotine-containing products in Latvia. 24% do it regularly, and 11% occasionally. In Latvia, as it is also elsewhere in the world, about two-thirds of smokers want to quit this harmful habit. The main reasons for quitting smoking are health problems and concern for health (73%), as well as the desire to save money (69%). Among them, 84% of traditional cigarette users who want to quit have tried to do so at least once before. 27% succeeded, while 54% of respondents quit smoking, but after some time started smoking again.