New Smokefree Map shows smoke-free policies in Europe still have a long way to go

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Brussels, 15 December 2022 - The new Smoke Free Partnership (SFP) interactive map of smoke-free legislation shows that several European countries are failing to adequately protect their citizens from tobacco smoke in public places.

Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death worldwide and in Europe. Moreover, exposure to tobacco smoke is responsible for around 1.2 million death globally as the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Compared with children with no secondhand exposure, children exposed to tobacco smoke are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, aural dysfunction, and the aggravation of asthma. In the EU, in 2017 about 24,000 deaths were attributable to secondhand smoke exposure at home, mainly from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and ischemic heart disease. 

SFP analysed the smoke-free legislation and compliance in 42 countries (EU countries + Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom). Based on this, a user-friendly interactive map was set up, with a traffic-light style colour rating which enables viewers to get a fast, comparative overview of the level of protection from second-hand smoke in each country. The information is based on a survey that was circulated to organizations in 43 countries in the course of 2021 and the data used refers to the legislation passed as of 1 June 2022. Ahead of the upcoming revision of the EU 2009 Recommendation of smoke-free environments (Q3 2023), the newly released map shows that an ambitious revision will be needed to provide guidance to European countries on comprehensive 100% smoke-free measures to protect kids and vulnerable groups from more than 4000 chemicals that have been identified in tobacco smoke. 

The Smokefree Map presents the situation of smoke-free policies across Europe. It allows to track and monitor the implementation of Article 8 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), to which all EU Member States are signatories, that refers to the protection from exposure to tobacco smoke. Strong smoke-free policies are also a key requirement for the full implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), its target 3.a aims to strengthen the implementation of the WHO FCTC. Overall, the new data shows that significant progress has been made through the extension of smoke-free areas in various environments and of smoking bans to novel and related tobacco products 

In dark green, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania and Spain are the EU Countries that are strongly enforcing Article 8 of the WHO FCTC and where smoking is negligible. In light green, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia and Sweden follow and enforce Article 8. In orange, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia are the EU countries that offer limited protection; there are many smoke-free public areas, but weak compliance limits the efficiency of the legislation. Finally, EU countries indicated in red, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark and Germany, offer little or no protection to citizens and have weak or unenforced smoke-free legislation. The 2022 Smoke Free Map further shows the shift from 2020 of each country, indicated with an upward/downward arrow or an equal sign. 

Currently, 18 out of 27 EU countries are complying with the international smoke-free obligations under Article 8 of the WHO FCTC. Among them, the Netherlands is the country that made the most significant progress while Germany is the one for which smoke-free policies and their level of implementation are particularly worrying. Furthermore, Sweden is the first and only country which has a complete smoking ban in terraces. Progress is currently being made also with regards to extending bans to heated tobacco products and new products on the market. 

In order to address existing shortcomings in the EU, the revision of the 2009 Recommendation on Smoke-Free Environments qualifies as an important opportunity. In its newly released position paper, SFP draws several recommendations for improving the smoke-free policies, among which: 

• Harmonisation of smoke-free laws in outdoor spaces 

• Implementation of smoke-free laws in all workplaces whether indoors or outdoors; 

• Extension of its scope to novel and emerging products 

• Reference to Article 5.3 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on protecting tobacco control policy making from the tobacco industry’s interference at the national level 

• The inclusion of second-hand and third-hand smoke in its scope (in addition to second-hand aerosol) 

• Replacement of the terminology “environmental smoke” with “second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke” 

• Removing exemptions from smoking bans, as well as smoking rooms 

• Explicit strategies to improve the enforcement of smoke-free laws for Member States 

• Engaging civil society in developing and implementing smoke-free policies 

As stated by Lilia Olefir, Smoke Free Partnership’s Director, “The ambitious revision of the Council recommendation on smoke-free environments is a crucial component of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Strengthening smoke-free legislation at the national level and improving the enforcement to ensure 100% smoke free environments with no exemptions is the only path to achieve a tobacco-free generation and ensure the reduction of smoking prevalence to 5% by 2040.” 

Press contact 

Lilia Olefir Director Smoke Free Partnership This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. + 32 493 655 964 

About the Smoke Free Partnership 

The Smoke Free Partnership is a coalition of over 50 NGOs working on the effective implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), in particular on tobacco control policy analysis and advocacy at EU level. 

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