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European Commission - Press release

World No Tobacco Day 2012: EU-wide survey shows that a majority of EU citizens supports stronger tobacco control measures

Brussels, 30 May 2012 - On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, the European Commission publishes an EU study on attitudes towards tobacco. On average, 60% of citizens support measures to make tobacco less visible and attractive, such as keeping tobacco products out of sight in shops or curbing the use of attractive flavours and colours. At the same time, other figures give cause for concern: 28% of EU citizens aged 15 and over smoke, and 70% of the smokers and ex-smokers took up the habit before the age of 18.

European Commissioner in charge of Health & Consumer Policy, John Dalli, said: "I am deeply concerned about the fact that most Europeans start smoking in their early youth, before their 18th birthday. This is why, as I stressed at a meeting today with Dr. Nikogosian, Head of the WHOFramework Convention for Tobacco Control's Secretariat, I am committed to ensuring that Europe lives up to its international commitments on regulating tobacco products, including reducing cigarettes' appeal to young people. It is in this spirit that the European Commission is currently shaping a proposal to revise the Tobacco Products Directive".

Commenting on some positive results of the survey, Commissioner Dalli added "I am encouraged by citizens' broad support for stronger tobacco control measures. It is also reassuring to see a substantial fall in the proportion of people exposed to tobacco smoke. This shows that strict regulations on smoking in public places and awareness raising action about the advantages of not smoking – such as the EU's "Ex-Smokers are unstoppable" campaign – are delivering results".

Findings from the EU survey on attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco include :

  • The number of cigarettes smoked on a daily basis is 14.2, which represents a slight decrease from the previous (2009) survey (14.4 cigarettes/day)

  • Half of the EU population has never smoked : the prevalence has not evolved in the past three years

  • 61% of current smokers have already tried to quit smoking, including 1 in 5 in the year prior to the survey

  • Although there has been a 17% fall in the proportion of people exposed to tobacco smoke in restaurants and bars, 14% of EU citizens still reported that they were exposed to smoking in restaurants and 28% inside cafés and bars in the last 6 months.

  • 73% of EU citizens are in favour of introducing security features to curb illicit trade of cigarettes, even if it makes them more expensive.

  • 33% of smokers and ex-smokers in the EU say health warnings on tobacco packs have/have had an impact on their attitudes and behaviour towards smoking.


Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death in the EU. It accounts for around 700.000 premature deaths each year in the EU.

In order to reduce tobacco consumption throughout the European Union, the Commission continues to pursue 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.

The review of the 2001 Directive on Tobacco Products is on-going and the Commission intends to table its proposal in the second half of 2012. The EU and all Member States have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which entered into force in February 2005.

A Council Recommendation on Smoke-Free Environments, adopted in 2009, calls on Member States to adopt and implement laws to protect citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in enclosed public places, workplaces, and public transport. It also calls for the enhancement of smoke-free laws with supporting measures to protect children, encourage efforts to quit smoking and display pictorial warnings on cigarette packages.

As part of its awareness-raising campaign, the Commission launched its "Ex-smokers are unstoppable" campaign in 2011. The campaign is now entering a new phase, building on the success of its first year. A renewed programme adheres to the original strategy that “Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable” should effect change by shifting the emphasis from the negative health consequences associated with smoking towards the positive benefits of becoming an ‘ex-smoker', thus motivating men and women across Europe to quit smoking.

For more information:


Tobacco policy website:

Ex-smokers are unstoppable campaign:

Contacts :

Frédéric Vincent (+32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola (+32 2 298 76 24)


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