Tobacco consumption is the single largest avoidable health risk in the European Union. Some 700.000 people die in the EU each year to tobacco-related diseases, says the European Commission. Since the launch of the “Europe Against Cancer”-Programme in the 1980s, fighting tobacco use has been a priority for the European Community. Even though tobacco control has developed since then, the fight is still on.
- Tobacco consumption is the most significant cause of premature death in Europe. 50% of smokers die on average 14 years earlier.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO European Region has one of the highest proportions of deaths: 16% of all deaths in adults over 30 are due to tobacco.
- 94% of smokers start smoking before the age of 25.
- In the WHO European Region, 22% of women smoke – a high average compared to Africa, Asia and the Middle East where 3 to 5% of smokers are female.
- In Sweden and Norway, the prevalence of daily tobacco smoking is higher in women. Similarly, more girls than boys are using tobacco in Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland and Slovenia.
- According to Eurostat Latvia (28 %), Bulgaria (29 %) and Greece (32 %) have the highest smoking rate in the EU.
- Statistics show, that the prevalence of daily smoking is generally lowest among people having completed tertiary education and highest among those having completed upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education.
- Since the early 2000s the Council and the European Parliament repeatedly called for a revision of the 2001 Tobacco Directive. Finally, on February 26th, in 2014, the Parliament approved a revised Tobacco Products Directive – a major achievement for tobacco control in the EU. Again and again cigarette makers tried to influence decisions.
- The EU tobacco Products Directive aims to make smoking and tobacco products less attractive – especially to young people. The new measures cover labelling, ingredients, tracking and tracing, e-cigarettes, cross-border distance sales, and herbal products for smoking.
- Currently the European Commission is working on the detailed technical rules needed to implement the Tobacco Products Directive including the methods to determine strong flavours and the appearance of the new health warnings. These rules should be in place before the transposition deadline of May 2016.
by Daniela Prugger