Close to 13 million people in the 27 countries of the EU suffer from one or more of the six main disease categories that are associated with smoking
A central pillar of tobacco control is EU legislation on tobacco products and on tobacco advertising. These laws are meant to conciliate internal market objectives with the need to ensure a high level of public health protection across the EU. The European Commission is in charge of overseeing the implementation of these laws and of proposing necessary revisions.
The Directive on Tobacco Advertising (2003) bans cross-border advertising of tobacco products in printed media, radio, and online services. It also bans sponsorship of cross border events. In addition, tobacco advertising and sponsorship on television has already been prohibited since 1989.
For other areas of tobacco control such as prevention, cessation and smoke-free environments, responsibility for providing the appropriate rules and structures lies with the individual Member States. In these areas, the EU's role is to support, complement and coordinate national efforts.
In Malta, no one can advertise on billboards, shop canopies, sunshades, umbrellas and any other medium intended for communication, any cigarettes, cigars, tobacco or tobacco products. No person may make use of lotteries and other gifts schemes intended for the promotion and advertising of any cigarettes, cigars, tobacco or tobacco products.
So far, 15 Member States have laws that protect citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in a comprehensive manner. Total bans on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces, including bars and restaurants are in place in Ireland, the UK, Greece, Spain and Hungary. Italy, Sweden, Malta, Latvia, Finland, Slovenia, France, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Poland, have introduced smoke-free legislation, however, allowing for special enclosed smoking rooms. In the remaining Member States, smoke-free laws give exemptions for certain public places such as bars and restaurants.
Smoking in public places in Malta will be completely banned within three years and lighting a cigarette will no longer be allowed in designated rooms. As from January 2013, it will be illegal to smoke anywhere inside public places and this includes all enclosed areas such as clubs and restaurants, according to a legal notice.
The Commission is currently considering to put forward a proposal for the revision of the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive in 2012. Following a public consultation launched last year and the analysis of possible options for revision within an impact assessment, the Directive could be strengthened, adapted to international tobacco control commitments, new developments in tobacco products and advances in science. Possible measures that are currently being examined are:
In the coming weeks, the Commission will also launch a new campaign: "Ex-smokers are Unstoppable". The aim of this campaign is to encourage young adults in the 25 to 34 age group to stop smoking. This represents around 145 million EU citizens. The new campaign will shift the focus from the dangers of smoking to the advantages of quitting smoking, using ex-smokers and their achievements as inspiring role models.