The impact of anti-smoking policies of the 2010-2014 Hungarian government - a comprehensive evaluation
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Semmelweis University, Hungary
Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Health Policy and Health Economics, Hungary
Ministry of Human Capacities, Focal Point for Tobacco Control, Hungary
Health Economist, Hungary
Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A440
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Hungary produced the greatest progress on the Tobacco Control Scale among 34 European countries in recent years, due to its tobacco control policies. Most strikingly, these measures were introduced with exceptional speed during the struggle with the world economic crisis and under constant pressure from the tobacco lobby threatening with the fall of employment, decline in tax revenues and the collapse of the hospitality industry.
Leading the charts in smoking-related diseases shows that smoking is one the most important health-risks in Hungary. According to a study of the National Institute of Health Development, 20,470 people died in smoking-related diseases in 2010. The economic burden of smoking was estimated to be HUF 441 billion, while tax revenues amounted to 360 billion HUF in 2010.

Intervention or response:
The above figures explain why the fight against smoking became one of the most important public health priorities in Hungary during the 2010-2014 period. The measures implemented in this period ranged from tax increase and the introduction of combined health warnings through the restriction of smoking in public places to the reorganization and control of tobacco retail sale.

Results and lessons learnt:
These anti-smoking measures have resulted in decrease in the prevalence of smoking (2009: 38% vs. 2014: 30%) and tobacco consumption (2012: 19,54bn vs. 2014: 14,87bn pieces) and in hospital admissions for acute coronary syndromes, and also had a positive impact on the hospitality industry and the state budget.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Reducing tobacco use plays a major role in Hungarian efforts to achieve target 3.a of SDG 3 which refers particularly to strengthening the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Politically, and tactically well-organized interventions took the form of a successful “76 days tobacco blitz” and in a short period, the government caught up with a more-than-decade-long deficit in meaningful actions in this important public health domain.