Calls to smoking helpline rocket in Austria
New information printed on cigarette packets in the EU to deter people from smoking appears to be working in Austria according to operators of a national stop smoking helpline.
The number for the Austrian-wide helpline, which has been operating for ten years, was first printed on the cigarette packets in June along with a set of new images depicting the health consequences of smoking.
According to Lower Austria’s medical insurance GKK, who operate the helpline, they received more phone calls in July than in the whole of 2015 after the new packets were introduced.
In July they received 3,864 calls while in 2015 they received in 3,376 calls. A spokesperson for the helpline, Sophie Meingassner, said in a press release on Monday that around “30 precent of all those who turn to us manage to quit.”
The helpline is an initiative from social insurance operaters and the health ministry, although it is operated by a team of clinical and health psychologists in St. Pölten.
As well as the telephone line (0800 810 013) an ‘Rauchfrei App’ and the website www.rauchfrei.at was also set up to inform people about the consequences of nicotine addictions and smoking habits.
Austria has extremely high smoking rates, particularly among 18-28 year olds, with 52 percent of men in that age group smoking, and 34 percent of women.
Smoking is currently banned in public places in Austria under a 2009 law but restaurants and cafes are exempted.
A total ban on smoking inside is planned for Austria in 2018, although most other EU countries have already had similar laws for several years now.