Meeting with journalists: "About smoking: from theory to the public"

By Professor Florin Mihălțan, chairman of the Romanian Society of Pulmonology

27 June, 2016

Smoke-free law enforcement is one of the major priorities on the Romanian Society of Pulmonology agenda.

Our mission is to have a comprehensive smoke-free law, which can not only be accepted but also be applied and monitored. Furthermore, we need educational packages, higher taxes on tobacco and high-impact pictograms, in order to drastically reduce tobacco consumption among Romanians.

The Romanian Society of Pulmonology, an organisation that has been involved for several years in the implementation of a smoke-free law, brought together important opinion leaders in the field of pulmonology and cardiology, public health professionals, authorities, social life representatives and journalists, in order to introduce a mutual goal: an accurate and more effective communication of topics regarding smoking in Romania.

The Romanian Society of Pulmonology’s steps for implementing legislation that prohibits smoking in public places, as well as for reducing the number of smokers, represent actions intended to align Romania to global health policy. Since last year, the action plan was founded on a solid partnership between the Romanian Society of Pulmonology and the Romanian Society of Cardiology.

The implementation of smoke-free law and the attempt to change social behaviour are slow and difficult, therefore the initiative requires partnerships. The cardiologists who attended the meeting highlighted the importance of partnerships between medical societies involved in combating smoking, in order to have a deeper impact at the social level.

These actions are all the more pressing since the risk of myocardial infarction in young smokers is high in Romania. Another important topic the experts approached was education as an important element in terms of raising awareness regarding the risks of smoking.

The representatives of the authorities admitted that, unfortunately, Romania is the only country in the European Union which has not adopted legislation to ban smoking in enclosed public places, emphasising that Romania should reach the European standards. However, there is an optimistic attitude regarding the adoption of smoke-free law and the hope that the lawmakers will reach a consensus in applying the law, which will also bring a beneficial change at the community level.

The civil society representatives argued that the implementation of the smoke-free law protects the rights of non-smokers and helps them to enjoy the fresh air in public spaces. They also pointed out the long term repercussions that tobacco consumption has on the economy. If we do a cost-benefit analysis, it would show that, if there is not a responsible intervention the costs associated with hospitalisation, workplace absenteeism, loss of productivity etc., will grow.

In terms of trying to change the behaviour of smokers, specialists rely heavily on reverse psychology, communication more about the positive effects of quitting smoking and less on the negative effects of nicotine addiction. The impact of the meeting was positive in terms of media representation. The event had a good coverage on Romanian TV channels, radio and online media.

Acknowledgement for event management: Sănătatea Press Group, your expert in medical communication.

Respiratory Worldwide aims to stimulate communication and interaction between national and regional respiratory societies and ERS. These articles have not been (peer) reviewed and are not official ERS content.