EU Health Award

EU Health Award for NGOs 2018

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EU Health Award for NGOs working to prevent tobacco use

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In 2018, the European Commission rewarded outstanding initiatives by NGOs which have contributed to a higher level of public health in the EU by working on preventing tobacco use. There were 11 candidate NGOs which were considered for the prize. The winners of the EU Health Award for NGOs 2018 were announced on 12 November 2018 at the Award Ceremony hosted during the EU Health Policy Platform annual meeting, in presence of EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis.

Have a look at the ceremony pictures.



1st Prize


Irish Cancer Society

X-HALE Youth Smoking Prevention Programme

The Irish Cancer Society X-HALE Youth Smoking Prevention and Education programme has been rolled out across Ireland each year since 2011 in partnership with over 270 community-based youth organisations and young people aged 10-24 as part of our ongoing commitment and contribution towards decreasing youth smoking rates and reducing health inequalities. X-HALE’s peer education approach harnesses the potential for young people most affected by tobacco use to drive the movement towards a smoke-free generation among their friends, communities and wider networks using film, social media and community action.

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2nd Prize


Education Against Tobacco / Aufklärung gegen Tabak e.V.

Education Against Tobacco

Education Against Tobacco is a multinational network driven by >3.500 volunteering medical students and physicians from 82 medical schools located in 14 countries worldwide. Founded in 2012, its mission is to deliver school-based prevention (>45,000 adolescents per year), to help smokers quit on a population basis via free evidence-based smoking cessation apps (>500,000 users), to improve physician-delivered smoking cessation counselling by educating more than 400 prospective physicians per year in elective courses at 17 of the participating medical schools and to promote tobacco control by entering into dialogue with politicians.

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3rd Prize


Youth Network No Excuse Slovenia

Youth Organisation No Excuse Slovenia

No Excuse Slovenia approaches the tobacco problem on several different levels: (1) by providing a 1,000-hour educational training programme for their activists to become active citizens who strive to change society for the better (2) by raising awareness in primary and secondary schools (young people aged 12 to 19 in Slovenia), increasing the knowledge on harmful effects of tobacco use; (3) engaging in research activities, where they try to uncover the non-compliance of tobacco distributers with the law; and (4) by advocating for stronger tobacco-control legislation.

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Berlin Working Group Environment and Development (BLUE 21)


Since 2004, BLUE 21 has been running the project Unfairtobacco: Our mission is to promote policy change towards a holistic approach to tobacco control by raising awareness of the impact of tobacco on health, human rights and the environment. To achieve decreasing smoking prevalence and effective, sustainable tobacco prevention, changes on a policy level are necessary. The project provides expertise by publishing papers, fact sheets and a website and sharing everything on social media. We do advocacy at national, European and international levels. Additionally, we provide an education programme for children, youth and disseminators using school workshops and exhibitions and by supporting youth action on WNTD.

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The Choice Foundation

The Choice Foundation

Teens understanding and taking control health (TUTCH)

The TUTCH program (teens understanding and taking control of health) utilises medical students as health educators for adolescent youth throughout Sweden. In two 90-minute sessions, the programme describes what happens to your body and mind when doing different kinds of drugs, drinking alcohol and using tobacco. The programme also debunks many common myths associated with the body and the usage of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

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L’Espace du Souffle

The Breath races "la route du Rhum 2018"

In November, with your support, “The Breathing Space” is taking the tobacco cessation month to the next level. Through the project “The Breath Race: Route du Rhum 2018" we intend to propel tobacco control through social media, using the lever of the boat race and sending positive messages on the benefit of quitting smoking during a month long journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The Skipper-tobacco specialist on board will guide people in their coping strategies, navigating them through the sometimes choppy waters of giving up an addiction.

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Hellenic Cancer Society


Since 2009, through applied experimentation, the Hellenic Cancer Society has developed an innovative holistic approach that addresses the entire school community. This includes the creation of specialised training centres, dissemination of guidelines for teachers and parents as well as the organisation of annual student conferences and art competitions for a smoke-free Greece. More than 40,000 students have participated in 1,525 interventions that have taken place around Greece. Regarding the train-the-trainer workshops, more than 2,500 school teachers have participated and 5,000 copies of the book entitled “Education for a Smokefree Society” have been printed and distributed.

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Hungarian Respiratory Society

Approaches to enhance smoking cessation in Hungary through guideline formulation and targeted training for healthcare professionals.

The formulation and implementation of the updated National Guideline on Smoking Cessation (Hungary) made deficiencies apparent: according to international and national experience, healthcare professionals frequently fail to provide brief intervention to patients due to insufficient education and lack of skills. The President of the Hungarian Respiratory Society seized the opportunity to emphasise the Society's involvement in tobacco control activities by extending the project-related workshops to all healthcare professionals. The project is currently running its second two-year period. A pilot training programme aiming to deliver a complex cessation and prevention programme for the region is planned for health visitors in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County in 2018-2019.

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Institute for the Prevention of Addiction (VIVID)

Institute for the Prevention of Addiction (VIVID)

In Austria, a country that is well known as tobacco-friendly, preventing tobacco use is particularly challenging, but VIVID – Institute for the Prevention of Addiction has been trying to change that since 1997. In 2007 VIVID started to coordinate and implement the “Styrian Tobacco Prevention Strategy” which now leads the way in Austria. It aims to minimize the number of people that start smoking, to maximize the number of people that quit smoking and to protect non-smokers. To go forward against tobacco, VIVID has a long-term action plan with six action policies: monitoring, tobacco prevention children/adolescents, advocacy, public relations, health professionals and smoking cessation.

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Institut für Therapie- und Gesundheitsforschung

Be Smart – Don't Start

Competition for smoke-free classes started in 1997. With the aim of influencing social norms and by using contract management techniques, school classes participating in the competition commit themselves to abstain from smoking for six months. Classes report on a regular basis whether they have remained smoke-free or not. After the end of the competition period, successful classes participate in a prize draw. Over the past 20 years, the competition has become the major school-based intervention to prevent smoking in Germany, with 4.5 million pupils having participated.

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Slovenian Coalition for Public Health, Environment and Tobacco Control (SCTC)

Reducing the Consumption of Tobacco, Related Products and Alcohol among the Inhabitants of the Republic of Slovenia

SCTC developed this initiative based on 15 years of experience. It comprises preventive programmes including one called “My Non-Smoking Vow”, which is an interactive programme for pupils 9-14 years of age intended to help prevent them from ever starting to smoke. Another is “Free Hands – Clean Lungs”, a programme developed by the Slovenian National Health Institute for students 15-19 years of age aimed at tobacco cessation and the promotion of non-smoking among adolescents. SCTC's next programme focuses on “Tobacco and Alcohol Traps” and works to inform parents about the traps of tobacco and alcohol use.

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Tobacco consumption is the single largest avoidable health risk in the European Union. 26% of Europeans smoke, and smoking continues to be the largest single cause of preventable death and disease in the EU. It is the most significant cause of premature death in the EU; around 50% of smokers die prematurely (on average 14 years earlier than non-smokers). In the past years a number of initiatives have been developed to address the burden of tobacco-consumption across Europe, where 54% of smokers have reportedly tried to quit smoking and only 20% succeeded1. A smoke-free lifestyle means better health and increased well-being, more disposable income and ultimately a better quality of life.

According to the May 2017 Special Eurobarometer on the attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes, there was a 6% decline between 2006 and 2017 in the proportion of those who smoke, with a declining trend in 21 of the 28 Member States. However, the report stressed that in terms of the changes among socio-demographic groups since 2014, one of the most prominent shifts can be observed for respondents aged 15-24 who are now slightly more likely to say that they smoke more than before (+ 4 percentage points, from 25% to 29%).

Tobacco use by adolescents and young adults causes nicotine addiction which increases the likelihood of ending up smoking into adulthood, with serious, long-term health consequences. Given the above, smoking prevention efforts would need to be targeted to young adults as well as to adolescents. There is also evidence that delaying the age when adolescents and young people begin using tobacco can reduce the risk that they become regular tobacco users and increase their chances of successfully quitting.

The role of NGOs is crucial in the effort to ensure a successful prevention of tobacco use.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, announced the Award on the occasion of World Health Day, saying "With 70% of smokers in Europe starting before the age of 18 and 94% starting before the age of 25, it is vital that we focus our tobacco prevention efforts on young Europeans. The Commission has put in place tough legislation to make tobacco products less attractive to young people, including bans on characterising flavours, packaging gimmicks and packs of 10. However, we know from experience that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to reduce tobacco use in the EU. In this respect, the work of NGOs in communicating to citizens about the dangers of tobacco is an invaluable part of our overall effort. It will therefore be my great pleasure to recognise and reward outstanding initiatives by NGOs which help young people refrain from tobacco use."

With this award, the European Commission will highlight and reward outstanding initiatives of international, European, national or regional non-governmental bodies which have significantly contributed to prevent tobacco use within the EU population. Initiatives should demonstrate added value in preventing tobacco use.

As with the previous EU Health Awards, this award is linked to the European Commission’s work to build up a database of good practices in various health fields from NGOs that can serve as models for the future. Access to this database should inspire other NGOs and public authorities in EU Member States as well as international organisations to replicate these good practices to protect human health and raise the quality of life of EU citizens.

The European Commission calls upon international, European, national and regional NGOs active in preventing tobacco use to present details of their initiatives to the EU Health Award 2018. The call for applications is open to initiatives that work to achieve a higher level of public health for EU citizens, in particular through actions aimed at avoiding tobacco use initiation among adolescents and young adults.

The type of initiatives that could be submitted includes but is not limited to:

  1. Awareness and information strategies for effective community change, including school programmes and /or involvement of parents.
  2. Social media and networks counter-advertising campaigns to prevent smoking initiation in the concerned age group(s).
  3. Promoting tobacco free norms targeted at adolescents and young adults.
  4. Supporting the successful implementation of EU and national tobacco control legislation.
  5. Interventions designed to reduce the accessibility of tobacco products (cigarettes, water pipe, chewing tobacco and others) to the age groups concerned.
  6. Engaging with health care professionals to strengthen education/medical curricula/training aimed to reduce tobacco use initiation by the targeted group(s).
  7. Developing initiatives addressing social factors with the aim of discouraging tobacco consumption in the concerned aged group(s).
  8. Interventions demonstrating potential synergies across the prevention areas mentioned above.
  9. Other innovative approaches not mentioned above that successfully help reduce smoking initiation.

Among the non-governmental organisations that respond to this call, a number will be shortlisted and three will be awarded for their outstanding initiatives. The prizes will rank as follows:

  • 1st prize: EUR 20 000
  • 2nd prize: EUR 15 000
  • 3rd prize: EUR 10 000

The EU Health Award is funded under the 3rd Health Programme 2014-2020.

Please find more information on the rules and how to apply under the other tabs.

[1] EU anti-tobacco campaigns: