Ukraine Reports Dramatic Drop in Cigarette Smoking, Further Action Needed to Continue Life-Saving Progress

Statement of Joshua Abrams, Director of Eurasia Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 04, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – Rates of cigarette smoking in Ukraine have declined dramatically according to new findings released today as part of Ukraine’s second Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS). The significant decrease in smoking reflects the success of Ukraine’s public health laws which protect all Ukrainians from the deadly harms of tobacco use – the world’s leading cause of preventable death.

The GATS results, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), reveal that smoking in Ukraine has dropped by nearly 20 percent, from 28.4 percent in 2010 to 22.8 percent in 2017. Exposure to secondhand smoke has declined even more dramatically – by 57 percent in the workplace and by nearly 50 percent in homes.

These drastic declines in tobacco exposure reflect the bold action taken by the Ukrainian government to reduce tobacco use. Since 2010, Ukraine has increased tobacco taxes, expanded smoke-free places, introduced large, graphic health warnings on tobacco packs and restricted tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Despite these impressive declines, tobacco use is still on track to claim 85,000 lives in Ukraine each year. Nearly a quarter of Ukrainians are still exposed to secondhand smoke in restaurants and cafes. And cigarettes remain highly affordable, costing only 17.5 hryvnia for a 20-stick pack, well below US $1.

To protect all Ukrainians from the crushing burden of tobacco-related death and disease – and to continue driving down smoking rates - Ukraine must remain committed to policies proven to reduce tobacco use. Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has an opportunity to vote on legislation this year that would greatly expand protections from secondhand smoke in public places, and prevent tobacco companies from marketing to kids by ending tobacco advertising and promotion at points of sale. The Rada also has an opportunity to continue previous progress in increasing the price of cigarettes by again raising tobacco taxes to keep cheap tobacco out of the hands of kids. We urge the Rada and the executive branch to embrace these policies and pass the vital policies to continue Ukraine’s momentum in reducing tobacco use and saving lives.

Ukraine has made great strides in combatting tobacco use – we congratulate the government of Ukraine for its sustained commitment to tackling this public health epidemic. Without urgent action from more countries around the world, tobacco use will kill one billion people this century.