Latvian Public Health Experts Raise Concerns Over Rising Smoking Rates

Latvia smoking rates rise

Public health experts in Latvia are sounding the alarm as smoking rates, which had been on a steady decline a decade ago, are once again on the rise. The increase in smoking prevalence is evident in both conventional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, with children’s doctors expressing particular concern about the early age at which children are starting to smoke, according to a report by Latvian Television on June 30.

A Tobacco and Nicotine Epidemic

Consumption data indicate that Latvia is facing a tobacco and nicotine epidemic. The number of smokers has begun to multiply again, with the use of electronic cigarettes in certain age groups doubling in just a few years. Iveta Pudule, Senior Public Health Analyst at the Disease Prevention and Control Center (SPKC), highlighted the alarming trend, stating, “This is literally a doubling from 22% to 44% since 2016.”

Electronic cigarettes have become particularly popular among young people aged 15-24, with many parents still believing the industry myth that nicotine from electronic cigarettes is less harmful than regular cigarettes. “They imagine that smoking electronic cigarettes is harmless, but it’s not,” Pudule added.

Health Risks for Children

Renāte Snipe, chief pulmonologist at the Children’s Clinical University Hospital (BKUS), emphasized the health risks associated with smoking for children. “These substances, especially the fragrances, they are also very, very toxic. In the lungs of an immature child they accumulate, and over the years this toxicity will manifest itself, and what is certain is that the child’s brain and also the lungs are still developing after the age of 20, and if they are poisoned daily or even a few times a week with these toxic substances, then this development will be hampered,” she explained.

Snipe warned that children who smoke will not reach their maximum potential in terms of lung function and brain development. She also pointed out the accessibility and affordability of disposable cigarettes, which make them particularly appealing to young people.

Room for Improvement in Nicotine Control Policies

While Latvia has introduced new restrictions to curb the tobacco industry’s efforts, a recent study by experts at Riga Stradins University (RSU) concludes that there is still room for improvement in nicotine control policies. Anda Ķīvīte-Urtāne, Director of the RSU Institute of Public Health, stated, “Experts from the World Health Organisation have calculated that the tax should be increased by at least 10% and for all nicotine products. We are not keeping up with this price increase. In fact, for inflation, the new rate of increase is too slow to have an impact on consumption habits.”

Public health experts have also identified a lack of effective support for those who want to quit smoking and a need for improved work with schoolchildren to prevent the uptake of smoking.


The rising smoking rates in Latvia, particularly among young people, are a cause for concern for public health experts. The increase in electronic cigarette use and the early age at which children are starting to smoke highlight the need for stronger nicotine control policies and effective support for smoking cessation. As the country grapples with this tobacco and nicotine epidemic, it is crucial to prioritize the health and well-being of the population, especially the younger generation.

Source: Smoking rates rise in Latvia, say public health experts

Matthew Ma