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Public Health (22-02-2013)

Report on Smoke-free Environments published today

Protection from second hand smoke in the EU has gone up considerably, according to a report published today by the European Commission, but more progress is needed. The report is based on self-reporting by the 27 Member States, following the 2009 Council Recommendation on Smoke-free Environments (2009/C 296/02), which called upon governments to adopt and implement laws to fully protect their citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in enclosed public places, workplaces and public transport.

Key findings from the report:

  • All Member States report that they have adopted measures to protect citizens against exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • The actual exposure rates for EU citizens dropped overall from 2009 to 2012.
  • For citizens visiting drinking places, the exposure rate dropped from 46% to 28% between 2009 and 2012. However, there are very significant differences between Member States.
  • National measures differ considerably in extent and scope . About half of the Member States have adopted or strengthened their smoke-free legislation since 2009. Many also started earlier.
  • Enforcement seems to be a problem in some Member States. Complex legislation (i.e. legislation with exemptions) is found to be particularly difficult to enforce.
  • Belgium, Spain and Poland are examples of countries where the adoption of comprehensive legislation led to very significant drops in exposure rates within a short period of time.
  • Smoking bans have not impacted negatively on the revenues of bars and restaurants, as feared. The economic impact has been limited, neutral and even positive over time.
  • The positive health effects of smoke-free legislation are immediate and include a reduction in the incidence of heart attacks and improvements in respiratory health.
  • Public support for smoke-free legislation is very high in Europe. A 2009 survey showed that a majority of Europeans are supportive. This is also supported by national surveys which reveal that support increased after introduction of effective measures.

For more information on smoke-free legislation in the EU see:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/tobacco/smoke-free_environments/index_en.htm

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