An unhealthy relationship: Bulgarian young people's attitudes to using tobacco products
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BlueLink Foundation, Sofia, Bulgaria
Publication date: 2021-12-10
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2021;7(Supplement):3
BlueLink's multidisciplinary research team, supported the by the Smoke free Life Coalition and the Union, examined the relationship between young people in Bulgaria and the use of tobacco products, focusing on the use of heated tobacco products, e-cigarettes and hookahs. The target age group is 18–35 years. Data were collected through 2 nation-wide representative sociological surveys; 2 focus groups; an online survey for young people; and 7 semi-structured meetings/interviews. Conclusions show that smoking affects young people's health, well-being, and finances. It still has a socializing and status symbol value for many. Smoking attracts young people as a means of coping with stress or easier socialization; demonstration of maturity, freedom or financial ability; or perceived superior lifestyle. Nearly 70% disapprove of smoking partially or completely and recognizing it as a serious public health issue.
Young people support tobacco control policies: 57.9% support the total ban on smoking in public places, 63.7% do not agree that children and adolescents should see advertisements of tobacco products, 52.3% agree that the state should not allow tobacco industry (TI) interference in public health policies. The majority of young Bulgarians either support limiting TI sponsorship or are undecided about it.
An impressive one-third of young people indicate a potential to vote for political actors who support improving tobacco control, although the majority indicate that this cannot be the primary reason for making a political choice.
The prevalence of tobacco use among young people in Bulgaria remains very high and shows no tendency of dropping – 50.4% in the age group 18–35 years. Conventional cigarettes, considered the most harmful, remain the most commonly used (81.9%). However, alternative products such as hookahs, e-cigarettes and heated products are growing in popularity (a total of 20% use), attracting young people with beautiful smoke clouds, modern designs and variety of tastes or simply as an easily accessible group leisure activity such as hookah bars. In spite of the aggressive marketing by the industry, young people remain skeptical regarding heated tobacco products.
Authors declare that BlueLink is a founding member of the Smoke-free Life Coalition in Bulgaria.
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