Protecting your health – at the centre of EU policy

The EU has a legal duty to protect public health in all its policies and activities – including legislation governing Europe's internal market for goods and services.

The EU can also help improve health and prevent illness by bringing EU countries together to discuss strategies for tackling issues such as obesity  or alcohol abuse , or by organising initiatives such as the European partnership for action against cancer.

In some cases, such as tobacco control and blood, tissues and cells, and organs, the EU can propose laws that contribute to improving people's health.

Tobacco control

EU tobacco control policy centres around a range of laws that:

  • regulate tobacco products to ensure harmonised standards and appropriate consumer information
  • restrict the marketing of tobacco products for public health reasons.

Tobacco Products Directive – covers the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products

Tobacco Advertising Directive – tobacco advertising and sponsorship rules for all media except TV

Audiovisual media services directive – prohibits tobacco advertising and sponsorship on TV, including product placement

Prevention of smoking

World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control   – to which the EU is a party 

Blood, tissues and cells, and organs

To ensure the quality and safety of human blood, tissues and cells, and organs, EU laws – binding on all member countries – have been adopted on blood, tissues and cells and organs (See Corrigendum to the Directive on organs)

Epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases

An EU network for the epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases has been in place since 1999. It focuses on: