Tobacco use remains the single biggest cause of chronic disease and avoidable death in the EU. Statistics on deaths in the EU from lung cancer, the cancer most associated with smoking, show that in 2015, there were 273 400 deaths from lung cancer alone, 273 400 too many, European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said on May 30, the eve of World No Tobacco Day.
“Having been personally affected by the loss of loved ones to the terrors of tobacco, I am deeply upset by the statistics of young people smoking. We need to reverse this trend,” Andriukaitis said.
One of the key aims of the new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which became fully applicable in the EU two years ago, is to make tobacco products less attractive to young people, he said.
“However, the growing popularity of new products such as electronic cigarettes among the young generation worries me a lot. Concerns are now being raised about whether such products are encouraging young people to start smoking instead of helping them to quit. That being said, we have taken important steps towards better protecting our citizens’ health from tobacco consumption.”
Andriukaitis said that NGOs could also play a big role, which is why in April 2018 he had launched the EU Health Award for NGOs, to highlight the outstanding initiatives of international, European, national and regional NGOs that have significantly contributed to prevent tobacco use within the EU.
The deadline for submissions is June 15 2018, and Andriukaitis will be presenting the award this November.
“As a medical doctor, I have seen first-hand the devastation tobacco use has on health, and how important it is to attack the problem from all angles.
“We should all step up our efforts to inform, educate and protect our citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco,” Andriukaitis said.
(Photo: Amr Safey/sxc.hu)