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Chain-smoking on the rise in Hungary

The number of chain-smokers in Hungary has increased, reports Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

According to the data provided by the Central Statistical Office, while the number of cigarette smokers decreased from 31 percent in 2009 to 29 percent in 2014, the number of chain-smokers increased in 2014 to 28 percent of all smokers from 27 percent in 2009.

Less than a quarter of women smoke regularly, while a third of men do. 14 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 18, 29 percent of women between 18 and 34, 27 percent of women between 35 and 64, and 7 percent of women over the age of 65 are smokers.

One quarter of men between the ages of 15 and 18, 42 percent of men between 18 and 34, 35 percent of men between 35 and 64, and 18 percent of men over the age of 65 are smokers.

Are government measures against smoking really working?

In 2012 the Hungarian government passed the deviously named law on “curbing smoking amongst minors and on the sale of tobacco products”, which effectively created a state monopoly in the resale of tobacco products.

It turned out that the law, submitted by now-Minister in charge of the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár, was actually written on the computer of the owner of one of Hungary’s largest tobacco producers, Hódmezővásárhely-based tobacco wholesaler Continental Dohányipari Zrt., whose owners are reportedly close friends of the Chancellor.

There was serious public outrage when it turned out that businesses previously engaged in the sale of tobacco products were not awarded tenders, while new businesses (owned by individuals with close ties to ruling party Fidesz) did win tenders.  Nearly 10 percent of all tobacco shop franchises awarded in 2012 were to Continental’s owners and their relatives.

One of the unintended consequences of the law was a sharp rise in the illicit sale of black market tobacco products.

Last year, another law effectively created a government monopoly over the wholesale distribution of tobacco products from May 2015.

Ironically, the World Health Organization awarded Prime Minister Viktor Orbán a prize in October 2013 for measures taken by his government to curb smoking, including banning smoking from bars and restaurants in 2012 and requiring that all cigarettes be labeled as a danger to health in 2013.

Referenced in this article:

Még nőtt is a dohányosok száma, HVG.hu; 4 May 2015.

http://2010-2014.kormany.hu/en/prime-minister-s-office/news/viktor-orban-receives-who-award-for-anti-smoking-legislation

Benjamin Novak :