02 June 2016
Europe, International
Asthma , COPD, Allergy
- Tobacco & Smoking

Tobacco remains the main cause of preventable deaths and diseases, causing 700,000 deaths every year in the European Union. Yet the number of Europeans starting to smoke as young as 15 continues to increase. As asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, we need concrete actions like plain-packaging to ensure the right to health and to information is respected, says EFA President Mikaela Odemyr.

To mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new guide on plain packaging of tobacco products, which gives governments the latest evidence and guidance on implementing the measure. Tobacco remains the most significant cause of premature death in the EU, responsible for almost 700,000 deaths every year.

Evidence from Australia, where plain packaging was introduced in 2012, show the measure reduces smoking prevalence among people aged 14 or older as packages sold with no logos, colors, brand images or promotional information refrain them from buying tobacco.

European countries like France, Ireland and the United Kingdom have imposed plain packaging of tobacco, with combined health warnings to limit the attractiveness of smoking. Other countries like Belgium, Hungary, and Slovenia are exploring this option.

At EFA, we have advocated for a stricter EU Tobacco Products Directive (applicable from last 20 May 2016) regulating the commercialization of tobacco products to avoid misleading consumers about the lethal health effects tobacco has in human health.

Our newly elected EFA President, Mikaela Odemyr, says: “As asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, we experience the heavy burden and pain caused by smoking, leading to social and work exclusion and unnecessary illness. We urge European countries to adopt plain-packaging measures to discourage our children and young people from taking up smoking. We need concrete actions like plain-packaging to ensure the right to health and to information is respected”.

The full EFA World No Tobacco Day Press Release is available in our website.

To mark World No Tobacco Day, the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP) organised an event at the European Parliament on “Plain packaging to protect our youth: Progress made, challenges ahead”, hosted by the Member of the European Parliament Gilles Pargneaux (France, S&D). EFA Senior EU Policy Adviser Roberta Savli represented patients’ views at the event, which saw the participation of the EU Commissioner for Health Andriukatis and of key policy-makers in those countries having adopted or working on the approval of plain packaging.

Europe is the region with the highest smoking prevalence in the world, which means that almost 1 in 4 Europeans smoke. European tobacco consumption is resulting in the highest amount of deaths worldwide due to tobacco (16%). 

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The EFA Team