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Brussels, 27 May 2010

World No Tobacco Day 2010: the Commission reaffirms its commitment to fight against smoking

Ahead of the 2010 No Tobacco Day (Monday 31st May), the European Commission unveils the results of a Eurobarometer survey which shows that a strong majority of EU citizens support stronger tobacco control measures. For example, three in every four Europeans supports picture health warnings on tobacco packs and smoke free restaurants. The survey also shows, however, that nearly one in every three Europeans still smokes, despite the fact that tobacco kills half of its users. The Commission is planning to launch an open consultation shortly with a view to revising the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive and is stepping up its tobacco control efforts throughout the EU.

John Dalli, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy said: "Tobacco kills 650,000 Europeans every year, and many lives could be saved from reducing tobacco consumption. I am particularly concerned about smoking rates amongst young people: Europe cannot passively watch future generations smoke away their health!"

The commissioner added: "I am determined to do everything in my power to reduce tobacco consumption across Europe via the upcoming revision of existing legislation on tobacco products and consider measures that can contribute to a clear and effective set of rules to support Europeans' health."

The Tobacco Products Directive at a glance:

The Directive (2001/37/EC) dates from 2001. It stipulates the maximum limits for e.g. nicotine and tar in cigarettes, obliges producers to use textual health warnings on cigarette packs and report on tobacco ingredients and bans using terms such as ‘light’.

The Commission is currently reviewing this Directive to provide a higher level of health protection and to update it to new developments as regards ingredients and national legislations. For example, giving consumers more information and making tobacco products less attractive, in particular to young people. The Commission plans to put forward a revised proposed Directive in the second half of 2011.

Smoke free Environments:

Following the Council Recommendation of November 2009 on smoke free environments, the European Commission strongly supports Member States' work towards " A Smoke-free Europe by 2012". In this context, the Commission encourages all Member States to protect their citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in enclosed public spaces, workplaces and public transport, to reduce children’s exposure to second-hand smoke. (The adoption and implementation of laws on smoke-free environment remain a competence of the Member States.)

What do citizens think?

The Eurobarometer survey shows that European citizens favour stricter tobacco control measures. There is high public support for picture health warnings on tobacco packs (75% in favor), even though only four Member States currently use them. Support is also high for banning flavors that make tobacco products more appetising (61%) and for banning advertising at the point of sale (63%).

Another Commission study published today shows that there is clear evidence that health warnings on tobacco packages are effective. They increase knowledge on the health consequences of tobacco use and help to change attitudes and behaviors towards tobacco consumption.

HELP Campaign: new TV spots

The Commission has sponsored the creation and dissemination of two new TV spots aimed at young people, in particular women. The spots will be aired across Europe on more than 130 channels as from 31 May 2010.


Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death in the EU. It accounts for around 650 000 premature deaths each year in the EU.

To reduce tobacco consumption throughout the European Union, the Commission pursues a comprehensive tobacco control policy. A wide range of mechanisms, activities, and initiatives including tobacco control legislation, prevention and cessation activities serve to maintain and strengthen the tobacco control policy.

Please also see:



For more information:

Factsheet on tobacco control in the EU:

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