Today is World No Tobacco Day, this years World No Tobacco Day focuses on tobacco free youth with a special view on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans. The EC funded ‘HELP – for a life without Tobacco’ campaign, aimed at young people (15-25 years) kicked off this years World No Tobacco Day event on the 28th of May in Brussels with the participation of Commissioner Vassiliou and the Mayor of Brussels, Mr. Freddy Thielemans.
Tobacco remains the largest single cause of premature death and disease in the European Union. It causes more than 660,000 premature deaths within the EU each year – which corresponds to about 1,800 deaths a day. These deaths could be avoided.
In order to curb this epidemic, the European Community, over the last 20 years, has pursued a comprehensive tobacco control policy aiming at fighting against tobacco consumption and reducing the number of smokers. The objective is to maintain and strengthen tobacco control policy efforts though a range of mechanisms, activities and initiatives including tobacco control legislation and prevention and cessation activities.
Less than three years after its entry into force, the EU advertising ban has proven its effectiveness. This is the conclusion of the Commission report on the performance of the Tobacco Advertising Directive.
Today, all Member States have transposed the Directive and tobacco brand advertising in the press aimed at the general public has virtually disappeared. Direct tobacco sponsorship of cross-border sports and other events within the EU has also ceased.
The key challenge in the tobacco advertising ban has shifted to the internet which is difficult to control. The Commission is working with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to strengthen advertising bans at global level, to ensure that the EU ban is not undermined from the outside.
EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: “I am very encouraged by the results of this report. It proves that in less than 3 years we have managed to make cross-border tobacco advertising in the EU a relic of the past. The teenagers of today need the real facts about smoking and its consequences. I will ensure that the Commission continues to remain a responsible, credible and ambitious actor in tobacco control as well as an active promoter and innovator of tobacco control at international level – in order to save lives in the EU and worldwide”
Ban on cross-border tobacco advertising and sponsorship
The EU has a wide ban on cross-border tobacco advertising and sponsorship that covers all forms of media from the traditional print media, television and radio to new technologies such as the internet. There is also a full ban on tobacco sponsorship of cross-border sports and other events, such as the European Football Championships or Formula One races.
The long history of tobacco sponsorship and Formula One has come to an end. This is a direct result of the EU Tobacco Advertising ban. So far, in 2008, no tobacco brands have been visible in Formula One Grand Prix races. To take a recent example, no tobacco sponsorship was visible in the Formula One races that took place last weekend in Monaco. Commissioner Vassiliou has urged the organisers and participants of Formula One to ensure that tobacco advertising shall not be present in the races in the future as well.
Comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising coupled with high taxes are the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption and its harmful effects on health.
The report finds that the ‘virtual’ environment is a new form of cross-border tobacco advertising. It offers new possibilities to glamorize tobacco. It is difficult to control as wrongdoers can easily close sites and relocate outside the EU.
The Commission seeks to improve the cross-border enforcement of tobacco advertising using the internet in close co-operation with Member States.
The Commission supports the introduction of tobacco advertising and sponsorship bans at a global level in the context of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in order to prevent incoming advertising from third countries which undermines the EU ban.