Brussels, 10 March 2004
"Feel free to say no" anti-smoking campaign hits the road again
"Feel free to say no" is the slogan of the EU-wide anti-smoking campaign to help combat smoking among young people. Building on a very successful road show featuring a huge campaign truck and more than 40 events in Member States in summer 2003 (see IP/03/535), the campaign will be on the road again from today until the end of July. London is the starting point of this year's road show to coincide with today's No Smoking Day in the United Kingdom. Additional highlights of the tour include the participation in events in Rome on World No Tobacco Day on 31 May and in Portugal during the European football championships and at the "Star Academy" casting show in France and Belgium in May and July. Further campaign activities for this year include a school competition and new television and print adverts of "Feel free to say no" in youth media. The campaign is part of the Commission's broader tobacco control strategy and targets EU-wide 36.2 million young people between 12 and 18 years. The overall budget of the campaign is €18 million for three years (€6 million per year).
Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said: "It is important for the campaign to be in direct contact with young people. We expect that this year's road show will bring over one million young people throughout the EU into direct contact with 'Feel free to say no'. In addition, new campaign adverts will be featured by nearly 50 youth magazines from April on and new television adverts will hit the screens on World No Smoking Day on 31 May. They will be seen on the pan-European television channels MTV and Eurosport as well as on national TV music channels and in youth programmes of general television channels. Why do we focus so much on young people when it comes to smoking prevention? It is well-known that eight out of ten people who smoke start when they are between 12 and 18 years old. Once they are hooked by the nicotine, these people no longer have a real choice. That's why we want young people to feel free to say no to tobacco while they still have the choice."
Events for young people in all EU Member States
The campaign truck is nearly 17 metres long and contains event tools like a stage which will be used for games, competitions, karaoke and quiz shows and for live acts by pop bands. Events within the road show include among others: London: No Smoking Day in Barking on 10 March; school stops in Girvan and Kirkcudbright in Scotland on 12 and 16 March; Dublin: St. Patrick's festival on 14 March; Leipzig: book fair on 25-28 March; Amsterdam: National Sports Week on 9/10 April; several stops at schools in France in April; Nice: Half-Marathon on 23-25 April; Dublin: Day of Welcome on 1 May; Graz: Street festival Graz on 07-09 May; Brussels: Star Academy on 20 May; Lille: Star Academy on 22 May; Lisbon: Rock in Rio on 5 June; stops at schools in Oeiras and Casceis on 7 and 9 June; Porto: concert on 12 June; Luxembourg: Music festival and National Day on 21 and 22 June; Kiel: Kieler Woche on 25-27 June; Mol: Pennenzakkenrock on 29 June; Paris: Star Academy on 3 July; Perg: children's festival on 9-11 July; Bochum: children's festival on 17/18 July.
All "Feel free to say no" campaign events in Member States are organised in cooperation with national and/or local authorities, health agencies and NGOs like the European Network on Young People and Tobacco (ENYPAT).
Creative school competition
Schools in Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK are currently participating in a creative school competition. The competition is implemented in close co-operation with the official national health partners of "Feel free to say no" and other health experts in these countries, and was in many cases integrated into on-going competitions, such as the Smoke-free Class Competition. Other countries are joining the creative school competition later this year, e.g. Denmark, Finland, and Germany. The first round of this EU-wide competition takes place at a national level.
Tobacco smoking by young people
Roughly one in three young people in the EU smoke regularly: 36.8% of young people aged 15 to 24 said in the latest EU-wide opinion poll that they smoke cigarettes regularly, 38.8% of young men and 34.9% of young women (Eurobarometer 57.2 "Attitudes and opinions of young people in the EU on drugs", October 2002). At the same time it is well-known that the years between 12 and 18 are crucial for the rejection or adoption of a smoking habit. Findings of the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that the rate of young smokers is increasing in all EU Member States ("Health and Health behaviour among young people in Europe", HBSC survey 1997-98, WHO Regional Office for Europe). Every second adolescent smoker will eventually die from the negative effects of smoking. Every year, 500,000 people in the European Union die prematurely from smoking-related diseases.
Tobacco control in a broader context
The EU anti-smoking campaign is one element of a much broader tobacco control strategy. Directive 2001/37/EC deals with the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products (see IP/02/1383).
The European Parliament and the Council agreed at the end of 2002 on a new directive on tobacco advertising and sponsorship which has to be implemented by Member States by 31 July 2005 at the latest (see IP/02/1788 and IP/01/767).
The Commission took an active role in the WHO negotiations for a legally-binding international Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (IP/03/722).
A Council Recommendation on the "Prevention of Smoking and on Initiatives to Improve Tobacco Control" specifically addresses a series of measures which complement the EU law in place (see IP/02/873). The Recommendation calls on Member States to adopt measures which aim e.g. at reducing the availability of tobacco products to children and adolescents, reducing the indiscriminate promotion of tobacco products, monitoring the promotion activities of the tobacco industry and improving the protection of non-smokers from the effects of passive smoking.