By Elżbieta Czapka and Weronika Kamińska-Skrzyńska, Polish Society for Health Programmes (PTPZ) 

In Poland, like in many other countries, social awareness of the negative impact of gas cooking on health is very low. Until recently, people were informed by various institutions that gas is an ecological source of energy. No wonder that messages contradicting this and pointing to the harmfulness of gas are treated with great scepticism. People also think that food prepared on gas stoves is much tastier. Especially when they are used to preparing traditional meals such as chicken soup with burnt onion or a fluffy cheesecake with gas, it can be hard to convince them to change their kitchen habits.  

This year’s clean cooking national event in Poland, held on 9th of May, was dedicated to students in the Tricity region. The event featured roundtable discussions around three case studies on the benefits of phasing out gas cooking and adopting cleaner cooking alternatives. It was organised by Dr Elzbieta Czapka (University of Gdansk, PTPZ) and moderated by Dr Weronika Kaminska-Skrzynska (Medical University of Gdansk, PTPZ) in cooperation with the Global Strategic Communications Network (GSCC).   

Students were invited from fields that related to health activities in society, such as sociology, psychology, public health, and emergency medicine. Many students in the Tricity engage in pro-climate activities and are willing to participate in events promoting sustainable practices and contributing to public health. In many cases, younger individuals also exhibit a greater openness to embracing change when compared to older generations. Their readiness to change, combined with a strong commitment to advancing both health and environmental sustainability positions them as invaluable allies in clean cooking initiatives, where innovative approaches are crucial for addressing pressing challenges at the intersection of health and the environment.  

Moreover, young people were involved in activities advocating for clean cooking because of their significant influence over their peers, and their potential to act as agents of change in their families. Students from different socioeconomic backgrounds were represented, enabling us to communicate the message to different communities and target groups within Polish society.  Lastly, it is important to provide young, educated people with reliable information about the harmful effects of gas cooking on our health, as they will one day make important decisions in society.