On 4 September 2017 the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, World Health Organization(WHO) Regional Office in Europe, WHO Country Office in Ukraine, Kyiv InternationalInstitute of Sociology and the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine held ajoint press conference presenting the results of the second Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in Ukraine.
The event was opened by Dr. Marthe Everard, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine. Dr. Everard said
“Ukraine ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2006, and since then tobacco control in the country has been strengthened. More than 10 years of FCTC implementation helped to achieve the significant reduction in tobacco use in Ukraine that is proved by GATS Ukraine 2017 findings. However, a lot of work still needs to be done and all tobacco control stakeholders – the Government, politicians, experts, scientists, civil society activists – should join their efforts in tobacco control. Evaluating the GATS 2017 and comparing it to the GATS 2010 allows us to identify the problems and understand how they can be resolved“.
Dr. Gauden Galea, Director of the Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Life-course at the WHO Regional Office for Europe said
“Globally more than 7 million people die from smoking-related illnesses every year and tobacco use across the Region and in Ukraine remains too high. Most of these deaths can and should be prevented through effective tobacco control. Countries need to reduce the availability of tobacco products, increase their price and restrict their marketing. Ukraine, like much of the Region, has made progress but more needs to be done and efforts should be focused on full implementation of the WHO FCTC.”
GATS 2017 was carried out using the same methods as GATS 2010, allowing the results of the two surveys to be compared and assessed for changes that occurred during the interval. Volodymyr Paniotto, Director General of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, explained that household members aged 15 years and older participated in the survey. 8298 individual interviews were conducted compared with 8173 in 2010.
Dr. Oleg Dudin, Chief specialist of the Public Health Department of Ministry of Health of Ukraine, presented the main findings of the study. Compared to 2010, in 2017, there was a 20% relative reduction in the proportion of the population who smoke tobacco daily. This is largely due to a reduction in smoking among men, as there were no significant reductions seen in the proportion of women who smoke. In total in 2017, 7.2 million adult Ukrainians smoke daily (35.9% of all adult men and 7.0% of all adult women).
“Comparison of findings from the 2010 and 2017 surveys has shown a beneficial impact of Ukraine’s tobacco control across many of the indicators measured: the percentage of those who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke at home, in the workplace and in public has reduced, as has the proportion of the population who have been exposed to tobacco promotion through marketing of tobacco products; prices for tobacco products has increased significantly, as has people’s awareness of the harms of tobacco use. However, there have been areas without progress: there has been a decrease in the proportion of adults who observed anti-tobacco advertising and in those who considered quitting smoking due to warnings on packets of cigarettes; the rates of successful smoking cessation have not changed; and, despite the bans on smoking in public places and tobacco advertising, adults are still reporting having observed these occurring. These issues require action to strengthen our existing tobacco control and reach an early and sustainable solution.”
Results of GATS 2017 will be used to develop Ukraine’s tobacco control policy further, address the pressing issues associated with gaps in existing legislation and adopt new laws to fulfill the requirements of the WHO FCTC. Areas for urgent attention include: using legislation to strengthen compliance with existing policy, in particular regarding the ban on smoking in public places and on the marketing of tobacco products; providing access to free or affordable services to support people to quit smoking and other tobacco use; strengthening the measures warning people of the risks of tobacco use, including increasing the graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and ensuring their rotation, and implementing evidence-based media campaigns about the harms of tobacco use; and maintaining the regular increases in the price of tobacco products through effective tobacco tax increases.
Moving Ukraine closer to full implementation of the WHO FCTC will contribute to further prevention and reduction of tobacco use. Hanna Hopko, MP, member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine explained that
“Implementation of the WHO FCTC makes up part of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and doing so enables Ukraine to increase its status on the international scene. Continued cooperation of the Ministry of Health, members of Parliament, the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine and civil society activists is essential to the success of tobacco control. The principle of ‘health in all policies’ should also be maintained in this agenda and we should remember that public health issues take precedence”.
Dr. Nataliya Korol, WHO Country Office in Ukraine
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Additional information is presented in Fact Sheet “GATS. Ukraine 2017” and Comparison Fact Sheet “GATS. Ukraine 2010 and 2017”.