Tobacco, war and politics: A look at historical facts, political science and public health
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Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
Collegium Civitas, Warsaw, Poland
Smart Health Foundation, Warsaw, Poland
Publication date: 2022-07-05
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2022;8(Supplement):A60
Russia’s war against Ukraine and its regional and global consequences raises a question on current and future threats for tobacco control and public health. In longer time perspective, this can have an impact on tobacco use and attitudes toward tobacco control policies, in particular in countries where the war consequences would be the biggest.

To briefly review the available historical facts on association between tobacco, war and politics and to make an attempt of explanation how war, political conflicts and its psychosocial and economic consequences influence on tobacco use, smoking behaviours and attitudes and tobacco control policies.

Material and method:
Brief narrative review of major historical, political, sociological and public health books, scientific papers and research reports on the impact of war, political conflict and their various consequences on tobacco epidemic and public health. The long-term search was made on Google Scholar, WorldWideScience, Medline, PubMed and on the Directory of the Open Access Journals as well as on major websites dedicated both to political conflicts and tobacco control.

In political sciences, a phrase on tobacco wars is mostly used in the context of political conflicts that have been made or continued for protecting of tobacco business, tobacco consumers or their rights. In economic terms, it may in general concern the wars between tobacco companies on market share or on manipulating the market by aggressive, based on false content, advertisement. In public health, tobacco wars mean the struggle of governments, health organisations and tobacco control advocates against tobacco industry (TI) and its lobbyists for health protection. In the past years, this is also a society’s war for ending the tobacco epidemic and reducing the environmental threats through tobacco control. This paper gives examples of such conflicts and briefly describes how these conflicts may influence on tobacco epidemic both at country, regional and global level. It includes the impact of adapted changes in strategy of tobacco industry in war conditions or in politically unstable regions, accessibility and affordability to tobacco products during war and post-war period, tobacco tax and price policy at that time, reduced access to smoking cessation service, limited support for tobacco control NGOs and advocates. It also refers to the impact of political ideology on smoking behaviours and attitudes toward tobacco control policies.

There is no doubt that tobacco epidemic has also grown up as a consequence of global political conflicts such as Crimean War, First or Second World War. It is partly proved by historical records, partly by time-specific analysis of the tobacco epidemic in the past century and partly by analysis of TI business and strategy during war, political conflicts or in politically unstable regions. Most of social studies show on the role of psychological stress and changes in social perception of tobacco during war and in post-war years as main factors that substantially influence smoking behaviours. Other, mostly economic studies, indicate on the role of free access to tobacco products for soldiers and other social groups. However, there is a very little known how the war or political conflicts influence on tobacco control policies and services. There is one of the gaps that should be closed by new research studies, also in the context of the current military conflict between Russia and Ukraine and its consequences to public health.

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