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According to the latest data of the European Health Interview Survey from 2014 (Európai lakossági egészségfelmérés, 2014) 29% of the adult population in Hungary do smoke. Between 15-18 years old, 14% of females and 25% of males smoke; among young adults this number climbs up to 29 and 42% respectively. Compared to the same survey’s results from previous years, there is a clear trend of decreasing numbers of smokers, but the percentage of regular smokers among young adults rose by 4% between 2009 and 2014.
With the help of the 2012/CXXXIV. Law on the suppression of underage smoking and on the retail trade of tobacco products (A fiatalkorúak dohányzásának visszaszorításáról és a dohánytermékek kiskereskedelméről szóló 2012. évi CXXXIV. törvény), the government radically altered the structure of the tobacco market in Hungary by reallocating concessions of tobacco selling rights and introducing strict regulations on young people’s access to tobacco.
The data on 2012 Hungarian Youth (2012-es Magyar Ifjúság) does not confirm a significant change in teenager’s smoking habits, but future evidence is needed to make well-founded judgments. Based on the findings of a major youth survey, age, gender and level of education are the three most important demographic factors determining smoking habits. Older age cohorts of youth, men, and those with vocational training are the most frequent smokers. According to the 2016 survey (Ifjúságkutatás 2016), however, the proportion of smokers per day dropped by two percentage points compared to the data of four years ago, but we can report a decline of 7 percentage points compared to the 2004 figures.
Use of alcohol
Having accurate statistics on alcohol and drug use is one of the most challenging tasks. Data based on self-reported consumption of alcohol and drug tends to underestimate the real figures. Based on large-scale national surveys, around half of young people in Hungary never or just very rarely drink alcohol. Boys tend to drink more than girls, and similarly, with older ages, the number of abstinent youth is decreasing. Around 4-5% of young people can be categorised as heavy drinkers.
The §16/A of the 1997/CLV. Act on customer protection (Fogyasztóvédelemről szóló 1997. évi CLV. törvény 16/A §) states that it is forbidden to sell or serve alcoholic drinks to people under the age of 18, except for medications prescribed by doctors.
Use of drugs
In 2012, 22% of young people between 15 and 29 years old knew somebody who had used drugs. Based on self-reporting, 6% of young people had tried marijuana (which is a significant decrease from 2008 when this figure was 12 per cent), 1% used LSD or another hallucinogen. The spread of designer drugs via dealers and efficient online channels could be considered a more serious problem with rather limited empirical research evidence on youth and in general. Media (média) has, however, started alarming the public on the excessive use of herbal and crystal. Their popularity lies in their relatively low prices and easy access. In socially excluded communities (among marginalised urban youth and young people in underprivileged rural communities), there is also a reinforcing trend in using self-made drugs.
Investigations among young people indicate an increase in the intensity of multiple cannabis use, daily or weekly. According to the 2014 Health Behaviour In School-Aged Children (referred hereinafter to as: HBSC) survey, nearly one-fourth (23.1%) of 9th and 11th grade students tried at least one of the illegal drugs and/or legal remedies (total drugs). One-fifth of the students (20%) tried illegal drugs, and nearly one-tenth (9%) tried legal drugs abusively (alcohol with medication and/or medication and/or adhesives, solvents).
The 'National Anti-Drug Strategy 2013-2020 - Pure Consciousness, Sanity, Combating Drugs'
The 'National Anti-Drug Strategy 2013-2020 - Pure Consciousness, Sanity, Combating Drugs' ('Nemzeti Drogellenes Stratégia 2013-2020 – Tiszta tudat, józanság, küzdelem a kábítószer-bűnözés ellen') policy was adopted in 2013 by the government. Its main purpose is to significantly reduce the illegal and abusive legal use of drugs with the help of community-based interventions and by focusing on a community strengthening approach that regards health as a basic value, and reinforcing a life model without drugs, using different, more effective tools.
ESPAD is a collaborative effort of independent research teams in more than 40 European countries and also the largest cross-national research project on adolescent substance use in the world. The overall aim of the project is to repeatedly collect comparable data on substance use among 15-16-year-old students in as many European countries as possible. According to ESPAD2015, in Hungary the most common drug was marijuana among students in 9th and 10th grades. After marijuana, the most commonly used drugs are legal or partially legal. The second most frequently used one is a new psychoactive substance, a group of drugs covering synthetic cannabinoids for the first time in 2015. It includes - according to legislative changes - partly legal, partly controlled and illegal compounds. They are followed by sedatives or sleeping pills taken without medical advice consumption of alcohol.
Education institutions and child protection
The links between public education institutions and the system of child protection are set out in the Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education (2011. évi CXC. törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről) and the Ministry of Human Capacities’ decision no. 20/2012 (VIII. 31) on the operation of educational institutions and the use of names of public educational institutions [a Nevelési-oktatási intézmények működéséről és a köznevelési intézmények névhasználatáról szóló 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) EMMI rendelet].
The prevention and elimination of vulnerability is the responsibility of every teacher in the educational institution. Ensuring this activity is primarily the responsibility of the head of the institution for which there is a law enabling the institution to employ a child and youth protection lawyer to assist the school's pedagogues in child and youth work. The job descriptions of the child and youth protection officer, the rules of procedures for the tasks to be carried out, and the activities of prevention, disadvantaged and vulnerable children are regulated in the Ministry of Human Resources’ decision no. 20/2012 (VIII. 31) on the operation of educational institutions and the use of names of public educational institutions [a Nevelési-oktatási intézmények működéséről és a köznevelési intézmények névhasználatáról szóló 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) EMMI rendelet].
Definitions of vulnerability
Vulnerability, defined in the Act CLIV of 1997 on Health (1997. évi CLIV. törvény az egészségügyről), includes only the threat to the optimal maintenance of the state of health. It does not contain any indications of causes, situations, risk factors or their severity. The law does not specify cases of co-operation and signalling obligations, so it often happens, that medical secrecy is also used by professionals who are otherwise subject to reporting obligations.
The definition of juvenile risk for the police and the related measures are contained in the following legislation: Act C of 2012 on the Criminal Code (2012. évi C. törvény a Büntető Törvénykönyv) states that 'the purpose of the punishment or measure applied to juveniles is primarily the juvenile to develop to the right direction and to become a useful member of society, with regard to this, at the choice of measure or punishment, the education and protection of juveniles should be kept in mind.'
The legislative framework for the implementation of school-based prevention programmes is given by the Ministry of Human Capacities’ decision no. 20/2012 (VIII. 31) on the operation of educational institutions and the use of names of public educational institutions [a Nevelési-oktatási intézmények működéséről és a köznevelési intézmények névhasználatáról szóló 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) EMMI rendelet]. According to the regulation, the aim of health promotion is to ensure, that every child has a full-time health promotion activity that is effective in everyday life of the educational institution, which effectively develops the well-being and health.
§128 (3) of the decree defines behavioural addictions and the prevention of consumption of addictive drugs as defined tasks, so drug prevention activities can be implemented as an integral part of school health promotion. The provisions of the Ministry of Human Capacities’ decree concerning the development of physical, mental, mental health, behavioural addiction and the prevention of the consumption of addictive drugs have entered into force on 1 September 2013.
The Hungarian Police (Magyar Rendőrség) has several local and national drug prevention programmes. Members of the organisation regularly give:
- drug-prevention lectures from primary school to universities
- advertise drawing competitions
- host thematic forums nationwide.
In 2013, the main directions of the drug prevention activity within the organizational framework of the Hungarian Defence Forces (Honvédelmi Minisztérium - Magyar Honvédség) were set out in several policy documents:
- the Parliament Decision no. 106/2009. (XII.21.) on the national strategic programme for the management of the drug problem (106/2009. (XII. 21.) OGY határozat a kábítószer-probléma kezelése érdekében készített nemzeti stratégiai programról), adopted with the
- 'National Strategy for Solving the Drugs Problem' ('Nemzeti stratégia a kábítószer-probléma kezelése érdekében'), later
- the National Anti-Drug Strategy 2013-2020 (Nemzeti Drogellenes Stratégia 2013-2020) and the
- Drug Prevention Strategy of the Hungarian Defense Forces (a Magyar Honvédség Drogprevenciós Stratégiája).
Ecclesiastical and civil spheres
Many actors in the ecclesiastical and civil spheres focus on young people with drugs, alcohol or other mental illness. Some of the most important organizations are the following:
- RÉV Addicts Assistant Service (RÉV Szenvedélybeteg-segítő Szolgálat)
- Blue Point Drug Counselling Centre and Drug Therapy Foundation (Kék Pont Drogkonzultációs Központ és Drogambulancia Alapítvány).
The ecclesiastically maintained RÉV Addicts Assistant Service (RÉV Szenvedélybeteg-segítő Szolgálat) helps affected people to relinquish dependence, and their relatives and their environment to be able to support addicts through healing. Alcohol, drugs, gambling, drug addiction, eating disorders and other similar fights and problems are dealt with by qualified social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, pastors, or patients who have already recovered.
The Blue Point Drug Counselling Centre and Drug Therapy Foundation (Kék Pont Drogkonzultációs Központ és Drogambulancia Alapítvány) has been a public benefit organization since 1997. The aim is to prevent, treat, and reduce the problems caused by addiction in relation to the individual, the family, and the society. Currently, they operate two ambulances in Budapest. In these two areas, teams are typically composed of social workers, addiction consultants, doctors, psychologists, sociologists, lawyers and communications professionals, and volunteers.
Endangered groups linked to institutions: early school leavers and schoolchildren, children in childcare facilities and juvenile delinquents, and vulnerable groups of people in communities such as vulnerable families, homeless youth, young people living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and minorities, especially Roma youth.
Food-related illnesses are treated as priorities in the budget. The objective of The Act CIII of 2011. on Public Health Product Tax. Act (Neta Act) [a népegészségügyi termékadóról szóló 2011. évi CIII. törvény (Neta törvény)] is to impose special taxes on food products with high sugar, salt and certain methyl-xanthine (such as caffeine) content. The aim of the measure is to promote healthy nutrition, to encourage food industry to produce products with more favourable composition, and to improve healthcare services and public health programs. The collected tax provides funding for the Health Insurance Fund (Egészségbiztosítási Alap).