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“Tobacco breaks hearts” say health chiefs in anti-smoking campaign 

Shock new figures have revealed the extent of smoking in the Canary Islands and the impact it is having on people’s health.

Director General of Public Health of the Canary Islands Health Service (SCS), José Juan Alemán said 2,300 people die each year in the islands as a result of tobacco consumption. The cost to the health services is estimated at around 180 million euros.

According to the Canary Islands’ Health Survey of 2015, around 466,000 people over 16 years of age continue to smoke in the autonomous community, a figure which represents 26.2 per cent of the total population. The proportion of men (28.7% per cent) and of women who smoke (23.7 per cent) is already very close.

However, one cause for celebration is the increase of people who have never smoked, which has gone from 50 per cent in 2004 to 58% per cent in 2015, especially in men (39 per cent in 2004 to 61.7 per cent in 2015).

The health department revealed the figures during a press conference to concide with World No Smoking Day which was held on May 31st. The slogan this year was “Tobacco breaks hearts”.

“Although it is a fact known for decades, it is still relevant that smoking continues to account for nearly a third of cases where the cause of death is of cardiovascular origin,” said Sr. Aleman. “Tobacco breaks other hearts: those of relatives and friends of the deceased.

The campaign included the circulation of 2,500 posters and 50,000 brochures on how to quit smoking.

The 2015 health survey showed that 70.1 per cent of people who smoke have tried to quit more than once, to the point that 16 .7 per cent have tried four or more times.

In Spain, the proportion of ex-smokers has been growing progressively as the population became aware of the health damage caused by tobacco consumption and exposure. Nowadays, they are already 34.1 per cent of the people who declare themselves ex-smokers.

Of these, the great majority stopped smoking more than ten years ago (57 per cent). In the last two decades, 33.2 per cent have quit smoking (17.2 per cent stopped smoking between five and ten years ago, and 16 per cent between one and five years ago). This figure is reduced to 9.2 per cent for those who quit tobacco within the last 12 months.

In the analysis of what motives would encourage people who smoke to give up this habit, smokers say that the main reason would be their own health.

The survey indicates that 61.4 per cent of people (including smokers and non-smokers) would agree to increase the price of the tobacco package to eight euros. Also, 65.4 per cent of respondents consider themselves exposed to environ-mental smoke (predominantly on terraces, 31.4 per cent, although 22.5 per cent feel exposed in multiple locations such as in bars, restaurants, at work – even that there is an express prohibition on smoking in workplaces- or in the car.)