While tobacco consumption fell in France in 2017, its ravages continue throughout Europe. The figures for tobacco-related deaths in the European Union in 2015 have just been released. These prove that we must now more than ever fight tooth and nail to curb smoking and its associated health hazards.
Lung cancer is the type of cancer with the highest fatality rate in Europe. And smoking cigarettes or tobacco products is the leading cause. In 2015, lung cancer led to 273 400 deaths across the EU. This total represents 21 % of all deaths caused by cancer. Two times as many men fall victim to this type of cancer compared to women (186 600 vs 88 800).
The figures are particularly alarming in Germany, the country with the highest incidence of lung cancer. This fact may be explained by the country’s tolerant approach to cigarettes. In Germany, tobacco advertising is perfectly legal. Cigarette companies can also fund political parties.
Effective policies to fight tobacco consumption
To reduce tobacco-related deaths, governments have a responsibility to enforce stronger policies. According to the OMS, the ban on tobacco advertising has been proven to reduce tobacco consumption from 7 to 16%. Since 2014, the EU has offered recommendations to apply stricter regulations on these products.
France rolled out its anti-tobacco plan in 2016, and it has been going strong ever since. The plan involves implementing preventive measures, such as neutral packaging and information campaigns. Support for smokers, including social security coverage for nicotine substitutes, is still lacking however.
The next major hurdle in the fight against tobacco relates to taxation. By harmonising fiscal policies on tobacco products across the EU, a great deal could be achieved to avoid cross-border purchases. This is a major point, but there is still a long way to go before we have a global European agreement on the subject.