EU Health Award

EU Health Award for NGOs 2018


EU Health Award for NGOs working to prevent tobacco use


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of this edition

The European Commission dedicates this fourth edition of the EU Health Award to initiatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that contributed or are contributing to a higher level of public health in the European Union by working to prevent tobacco use.

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: