Tobacco and alcohol consumption remain problematicFewer cigarettes, more water pipes: this is roughly how smoking behavior is developing in Germany. Gambling also changes.
According to the most recent figures, one in four women and one in three men aged 18 and over smoked in 2020. – Photo by Armin Weigel/dpa
Hamm – Fewer cigarettes are being smoked in Germany, but the consumption of shisha water pipe tobacco is increasing significantly.
When it comes to alcohol, Germany remains a "high-consumption country" by international standards, according to the "Jahrbuch Sucht 2022" (Yearbook on Addiction) published by the Deutsche Hauptstelle fur Suchtfragen (German Central Office for Addiction Ies). The consequences of smoking and drinking alcohol kill tens of thousands of people nationwide every year, experts stressed in the report.
According to the figures, consumption of finished cigarettes was 71.8 billion in 2021, down 2.8 percent from the previous year. With a per capita consumption of 863 cigarettes in this sub-sector, this is the lowest value since reunification. For hand-rolled cigarettes, consumption fell by 5.6 percent to an amount equivalent to about 37.3 billion hand-rolled cigarettes. Pipe tobacco increased however by 40 per cent to scarcely 8400 tons substantially. "This can be attributed to the continued popularity of the special hookah tobacco smoked in shishas, especially by teenagers and young adults."
Almost 30 billion euros for tobacco products
In 2021, 29.4 billion euros were spent on tobacco products in Germany. One in four women (24 percent) smoked in 2020, according to the most recent figures. One in three men (34 percent) aged 18 and older. According to the latest figures, in 2018 around 127.000 people died as a result of smoking. The overall economic costs – for example, for the treatment of tobacco-related diseases – were estimated at more than 97 billion euros annually. There is still a lot to be done in prevention and control policy, said DHS Managing Director Christina Rummel. The measures taken so far have led to a decrease, but this is by no means enough.
This also applies to alcohol. "Alcohol is a cell poison," clarified CEO Norbert Scherbaum. Numerous physical illnesses can be traced back to alcohol consumption. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), within one year there had been 62.000 alcohol-related deaths. The figure refers to the year 2016; there is no more recent figure, as the WHO only conducts the study among 195 countries at larger annual intervals, Rummel explained.
Long-term positive development
Progress has been made – especially in a long-term comparison: While in 1970 every German citizen aged 15 and over consumed an average of 14.4 liters of pure alcohol, in 2019 the figure was 10.2 liters. Nevertheless: "Too much alcohol is drunk in Germany." A week of action from 14. May to draw attention to the risks – with many events also in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.
Looking at the legal gambling market, the report shows a clear decline of a good 11 percent to 38.3 billion euros in revenue in 2020. The largest market segment is accounted for by the 220,000 commercial gaming machines installed in arcades and restaurants. The non-regulated, illicit market is also expected to decline sharply.
The yearbook clearly shows where action is needed, said Burkhard Blienert (SPD), the federal government's drug commissioner, to the German Press Agency. By far the greatest harm is still caused by the use of tobacco and alcohol. "We also have to react to the increasing spread of water pipes. A ban on tobacco sponsorship is needed in this legislature. Clearer limits on alcohol advertising, too. In the coming months, the responsible departments will have to consider "how we can reduce alcohol consumption and strengthen the protection of children and young people.
The Blue Cross in Wuppertal, which supports addicted people, warned: "Alcohol is so dangerous as an addictive substance because its addictive potential is grossly underestimated." Biographies of alcohol addicts usually began with the fact that they consumed alcohol within socially accepted limits.
Consumption of addictive substances increases in times of crisis
And what traces does the ongoing pandemic leave behind?? Corona has also severely affected the mental health of the population, emphasizes one in Hamm. In crises, many people increasingly try to compensate for their stresses with addictive substances. However, this does not mean that the Germans have become more addicted to Corona.
From the point of view of addiction support, the hardships caused by the pandemic are particularly difficult for young people and often aggravate the situation for people who have already had psychosocial or health problems. "Prevention, early intervention, counseling, treatment and addiction self-help are therefore all the more needed now to support those at risk of addiction and those suffering from addiction," warned prevention officer Christine Kreider.