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Fact sheet on smoke free legislation - WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 8


31 May 2011


Health & Consumers

The WHO FCTC is an international treaty guiding national tobacco laws. It is a set of evidence-based legislative measures for tobacco control which for example limits exposure to smoke in public places and advertisements.

It includes:

•    Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies

•    Protection of second-hand tobacco exposure

•    Offering help to quit tobacco use

•    Warning about the dangers of tobacco

•    Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

•    Raising taxes on tobacco

The WHO FCTC is the first international treaty to be negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003, and entered into force on 27 February 2005.

Protection of second-hand tobacco exposure - Article 8 of the WHO FCTC
Based on research which clearly shows that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, the guidelines for Article 8, adopted by the Conference of the Parties, requires “the total elimination of smoking and tobacco smoke in a particular space or environment in order to create a 100% smoke free environment”.

Article 8 of the WHO FCTC emphasizes

•    “scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability”

•    Each Party shall adopt and implement measures “providing for protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places”

Smoke free legislation works

The impact of smoke free legislation can be highly effective if it is based on the provisions of the WHO FCTC Article 8 and is strongly enforced.

• Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is decreased by 80-90% in high-exposure settings

Country Example: Ireland provides strong evidence of the positive health effects of smoke-free environments. Following the country’s implementation of smoke-free legislation in 2004, ambient air nicotine concentrations decreased by 83% and bar workers’ exposure to second-hand smoke plunged from 30 hours per week to nearly 0.

•    Rapidly improves respiratory symptoms (e.g. wheezing and coughing) and sensory symptoms (e.g. upper airway and eye irritation)

•    Reduces the incidence of heart attack almost immediately

The scientific literature indicates that just a few months after the implementation of smoke-free laws, the hospitalization for myocardial infarctions decreases by 20-40%.

•    Helps smokers who want to quit

Smoke-free laws in workplaces can cut absolute smoking prevalence by 4%. Smoke-free policies in workplaces in several industrialized nations have reduced total tobacco consumption among workers by an average of 29%.

• Encourages smoke free homes

•    Results in either a neutral or positive impact on businesses, including restaurants and bars

Country Example: In the United Kingdom, 40% of businesses reported a positive impact and 57% reported a neutral impact.

Country Example: In Ireland, the number of customers in bars actually increased by 11% after the enactment of the smoke-free legislation.

Country Example: When Turkey went smoke free in the middle of a global financial crisis, the GNP decreased by 3,3% while the income of its hospitality workplaces increased by 5.2%, and the amount of VAT collected and transferred by the hospitality sector increased by more than 20% in 2009.

WHO FCTC in the WHO European Region

The WHO FCTC has become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties.

In the WHO European Region:

•    46 countries (out of 53) and the European Community are Parties

•    7 countries are not yet Parties: Andorra, Czech Republic, Monaco, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan*, Uzbekistan

•    Recent development in 2011: President of Turkmenistan signs accession to WHO FCTC

Implementation of Article 8

•    9 countries in region have comprehensive smoke free legislation
Albania, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, Spain, Turkey, Turkmenistan and UK

•    4 countries have legislation that specifies six to seven public places completely smoke free

Cyprus, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Macedonia

•    20 countries have legislation that specifies three to five public places completely smoke free

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Moldova, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine

•    17 countries have legislation that specifies up to two public places completely smoke free
Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, BiH, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Israel, Monaco, Poland, Romania, RUS, Sweden, Switzerland, Uzbekistan

•    8 countries had developments in their smoke free legislation from 2008 to 2011
Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine

For more information please visit:


European Institute of Peace
Research Consultants
International Association for Democracy (IAD)
Lobbying Officer (voluntary)
European Food Banks Federation
Head of ​Fundraising and Partnerships​​
European Affairs Consulting Group (Eacon)
EU Public Affairs Trainee
International Commission of Jurists - European Institutions
Programme Manager
Terre des Hommes International Federation
Child and Youth Participation Advisor (Environment & Climate)
KIOS Foundation
Team leader
European Parliament, office of MEP Siegfried Mureșan
Accredited Parliamentary Assistant, office of MEP Siegfried Mureșan