CASE 14: Curbing tobacco use in Poland

Map showing Poland

How do we know

Beginning in the 1980s, the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Centre and the Institute of Oncology in Poland began conducting and publishing annual research about the health impact of smoking and the link between smoking and cancer, and the prevalence of smoking.


Health Condition: Tobacco is the second deadliest threat to adult health in the world and causes 1 in every 10 adult deaths. It is estimated that 500 million people alive today will die prematurely because of tobacco consumption. More than three quarters of the world's 1.2 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries, where smoking is on the rise. By 2030, it is estimated that smoking-related deaths will have doubled, accounting for the deaths of 6 in 10 people. In the 1980s, Poland had the highest rate of smoking in the world. Nearly three-quarters of Polish men aged 20 to 60 smoked every day. In 1990, the probability that a 15-year-old boy born in Poland would reach his 60th birth­day was lower than in most countries, and middle-aged Polish men had one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world.

Intervention or Program: In 1995, the Polish parliament passed groundbreaking tobacco-control legislation, which included:

Health education campaigns and the "Great Polish Smoke-Out" have also raised awareness about the dangers of smoking and have encouraged Poles to quit.

Impact: Cigarette consumption dropped 10 percent between 1990 and 1998, and the number of smokers declined from 14 million in the 1980s to under 10 million at the end of the 1990s. The reduction in smoking led to: