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Going tobacco-free - 08/07/2009

EU countries urged to pass tougher anti-smoking laws.

The commission is calling for an EU-wide ban on smoking in public places by 2012.

Currently all EU countries have regulations of some kind designed to protect people from second-hand smoke and its harmful effects. But the rules vary widely from country to country.

The UK and Ireland have the strictest laws - a complete ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public places, including public restaurants and bars. Bulgaria is due to follow suit in 2010.

Greece, Italy, Malta, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Slovenia, France and Holland have introduced smoke-free legislation that still allows special enclosed smoking rooms.

The EU is now proposing that uniform laws be drafted for all 27 countries to regulate smoking more strictly in public areas and workplaces.

Second-hand, or passive, smoke has been linked to heart disease and lung cancer. Back in 2002, some 19 000 non-smokers are thought to have died in the EU due to second-hand smoke at home or at work.

Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of death in the EU, claiming some 650 000 lives a year. One in three Europeans - about 170 million - uses tobacco.

As part of a new anti-smoking campaign, the EU is inviting people to upload videos showing how they kicked the habit. Hundreds have responded and their work can be seen on the campaign website.

For a life without tobacco

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