WHY EASTERN EUROPE?
According to the Special Eurobarometer 385 published in 2012, nearly one in every three citizens smoke and 61% of current smokers have already tried to quit smoking, including 1 in 5 in the year prior to the survey. Thirty nine percent of EU smokers have never tried to stop smoking, while tobacco kills 650,000 Europeans every year. In this frame, there is an increasing consensus that tobacco dependence is a disease that must be treated by health professionals.
This fact is stressed by Article 14 of the FCTC which articulates “each Party shall develop and disseminate appropriate, comprehensive and integrated guidelines based on scientific evidence and best practices, taking into account national circumstances and priorities, and shall take effective measures to promote cessation of tobacco use and adequate treatment for tobacco dependence”. Smoking cessation service levels at an EU level differ significantly as identified through the Pfizer-EQUIPP report and the e.SCCAN 2010 report, and as noted by our national counterparts, Eastern Europe is an area of unmet needs and great challenges in the implementation or article 14 of the FCTC.
The above is corroborated by the fact that while the average EU prevalence of tobacco use is at 28%, smoking prevalence is substantially higher in the Eastern European countries that we plan to focus on within the EPACCT training program.
Specifically, within Ukraine, 29% of adults are current smokers, however 68% of which are interested in quitting, while 40% had attempted to quit in the past year-indicating a strong will and regional need for enhanced smoking cessation capacity. According to the Ukraine GATS survey, 74% of smokers where advised by the provider to quit, indicating substantial intention by providers to “Ask” about tobacco use, however potentially a gap in being able to effectively address tobacco treatment in clinical practice. (GATS, 2010).
Similarly in Romania, smoking prevalence has been estimated at 30%, of which 1 in 3 smokers had reported a quit attempt in the previous year, with 60% of smokers reported to have ever tried to quit indicating the population’s need for increased cessation support. (Eurobarometer 2012).
Our research in Armenia also indicated a gap in training as only 27% of hospital physicians reported any training in smoking cessation methods (Movsisyan, 2012). Finally among Georgian men, an estimated 54.9% are current daily smokers, in contrast to only 12% of women indicating a large gender gap in prevalence and need for smoking cessation actions (Berg, 2014). Hence this region would benefit from a formal accreditation and training program, such as EPACTT that could develop the next “front line” of tobacco control and treatment champions in Eastern Europe.