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Fight against tobacco: European Commission launches a pan-European campaign

European Commission - IP/11/710   16/06/2011

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European Commission - Press release

Fight against tobacco: European Commission launches a pan-European campaign

Brussels, 16 June 2011 "Ex-smokers are unstoppable" is the slogan of the EU-wide campaign launched today by European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli. Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable illness in the European Union and the estimated cause of death of over 650,000 people in the European Union every year. 1 in 3 people smoke. The 3 year campaign being launched today will focus on the positive effects of stopping smoking and will use a coordinated mix of advertising, social media, events and practical tools to reach smokers and help them quit.

"Ex-smokers are unstoppable"

The campaign is aimed at smokers aged between 25 and 34 representing almost 28 million people in the EU. The campaign aims to highlight what smokers can gain from quitting to smoke, and uses ex-smokers and their achievements as role models to inspire those who wish to quit. The campaign further provides smokers with practical help with quitting, through the innovative "iCoach".

The first year of the campaign sees the development and uptake of the concept. The following years will focus on the rewards to ex-smokers: physical, personal and even financial benefits one can experience when becoming an ex-smoker. Particular attention will be paid to specific groups, such as women and lower socio-economic groups. This will ensure that the "Ex-smokers are unstoppable" message will be tailored to national audiences and demographic groups and will reach all corners of the EU.

On launching the campaign, Commissioner Dalli said: Young people start smoking because they are led to think it is cool; they continue smoking because tobacco is addictive; and over 650,000 people die out of smoking in the EU every year because tobacco is highly toxic. Public authorities have a role to play in helping citizens break this cycle of addiction and avoidable death and illness. This is what the "Ex-smokers are unstoppable campaign" is about. I am confident that the campaign will help smokers understand they have much to gain from quitting".

Introducing the iCoach

The “Ex-smokers are unstoppable” campaign features an effective tool to help smokers quit. iCoach is a free access digital health coaching platform available in all the official EU languages. Unlike other digital health tools, the iCoach also focuses on those unwilling to quit and those with a high relapse risk.

EU's continual involvement

The first tobacco control legislation in the EU was introduced in the 1980s. Since then, EU legislation and policy has been further developed in the areas of product regulation, advertising and protecting people from second hand smoke, as well as prevention of tobacco use, awareness raising and support for cessation.

This EU approach includes, since 2002, EU-wide awareness raising campaigns.

The first EU-wide awareness raising campaign financed by the Commission "Feel free to say no" ran from 2002 to 2004.

The "HELP" campaign which ran from 2005 to 2010 focused on smoking prevention, smoking cessation, and passive smoking and targeted, in particular, young Europeans between 15 and 25 years of age.

The new campaign “Ex-smokers are unstoppable” is a natural progression and shifts the focus from the dangers of smoking to the advantages of quitting smoking.

Much remains to be done

Despite previous advances, a third of Europeans still light up on a regular basis and many continue to die from smoking-related illnesses. This is not only a human tragedy but a major health and socio-economic concern as it places greater burden on public health systems and robs Europe of workforce needed to drive competitiveness.

For more information:

The fight against tobacco in the EU

MEMO/11/349

The "Ex-smokers are unstoppable" campaign

www.exsmokers.eu

MEMO/11/405

Contacts :

Frédéric Vincent (+32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola (+32 2 298 76 24)


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