Newsletter 208 - Joint Action on Tobacco Control

Health-EU Newsletter 208 - Focus

New Joint Action on Tobacco Control supports implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive

The Joint Action on Tobacco Control (JATC) was launched in Athens in December 2017 to help Member States in implementing the Tobacco Products Directive and thereby in reducing the number of tobacco-related deaths and illnesses in the EU. Project Coordinator Prof. Panagiotis Behrakis explains how this new collaboration between the European Commission and the EU Member States came into being and what it hopes to achieve.

Why was the Joint Action on Tobacco Control set up?

Smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption are considered the major single cause of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. Compared to the rest of the world, the World Health Organization’s European Region has one of the highest proportions of deaths attributable to tobacco. The EU's newly adopted binding legislation, the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), lays down rules governing the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products and is meant to help reduce the devastation of tobacco-related deaths and illnesses in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
The TPD is a complex document that provides a legislative framework for tobacco products in the EU market. One key aspect of this binding legislation is the development of an EU-common reporting system for submitting data on ingredients contained in tobacco and related products and for disclosing the collected data to the public. This Joint Action aims to offer significant added value, as it addresses the issue of tobacco product monitoring at an EU-wide level, which could not be done by one or even a few Member States alone.

What is its main aim?

The general objective is to provide support for the implementation of the TPD throughout the Member States. More specifically, it aims to support the dissemination of information to the target groups, make it easier to access data collected through the EU Common Entry Gate (EU CEG), monitor and provide support to the tasks of tobacco and e-cigarette products regulation, assist Member States networking and collaboration between research institutions and laboratories for tobacco evaluation, support Member States in the process of monitoring, assessing and updating priority additives, and integrate the JATC results into national policies.

Who is participating in the project and what are the target groups?

Thirty-one scientific and governmental institutions from across Europe are active members of the JATC tasks, while 13 more international stakeholders participate as collaborating partners. All of them interact closely with the JATC Coordination Team, made up of the members of the Hellenic Cancer Society, which coordinates the project’s administrative and operational procedures and collaborates with representatives of the European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Food Safety and the Consumer, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency. The JATC seeks to reach a variety of primary target groups for the project’s outcome and communication activities; EU regulators, EU policy makers, international and national tobacco control stakeholders and researchers, as well as the general public.

How is the JATC structured and what are its expected outcomes?

The 36-month Joint Action includes an integrated sequence of 9 work packages: 4 horizontal and 5 core WPs. Each work package is coordinated by a WP leader (one of the JATC 31 partners). The WPs cover all aspects of the project: coordination; dissemination; evaluation; integration into national policies and sustainability; Common Entry Gate data extraction and handling; tobacco product evaluation; E-cigarette product evaluation; laboratory verification, collaboration and analyses; and additives subject to enhanced reporting obligations.
Apart from the TPD implementation, expected outcomes for the Member States include 1) increased regulators' training, 2) agreement on a common approach on taking tobacco product evidence-based decisions, 3) increased data sharing and collaborations on tobacco product regulatory science, 4) increased literacy on tobacco product design, constituents and toxicity, 5) increased knowledge of e-cigarette design parameters, ingredients and emissions, 6) enhanced laboratory collaboration for ingredient and emission measurements, 7) increased scientific scrutiny regarding potential priority additives, 8) increased general public awareness and 9) enhanced research and policy action.