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We need clean air, free from second-hand smoke, everywhere


31 May 2017


Health & Consumers

Brussels, 31 May 2017 / WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY – Tobacco remains the main cause of preventable deaths and diseases, causing 700,000 deaths every year in the European Union. (1) Worryingly, more than 10% of these deaths are due to second-hand smoke exposure, and our children and patients with respiratory disease are particularly affected. (2)

The EU has the mandate and the responsibility to introduce binding legislation to put an end to tobacco. (3) Despite the 2009 European Commission call for a smoke-free Europe by 2012, the 2009 Council Recommendations on smoke-free environments, and the great progress made in the last decade, over 1 in 4 EU citizens were exposed to tobacco smoke at work in 2013. (4, 5, 1) Moreover, half of European general health facilities still allowed tobacco consumption inside, profiting from national partial smoking bans. (6)

Latest data from EU Member States confirms the development of stricter smoke-free legislation has frozen as many countries are lagging behind on the adoption and enforcement of smoke-free environments indoors. Estonia and Portugal still allow smoking in health care facilities and in the workplace. Bar customers are still exposed to second-hand smoke in Austria, Croatia, Denmark Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Portugal. Not to mention restaurants in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Portugal where the ban is either partial or inexistent. (7)

EFA President, Mikaela Odemyr, said: “It is clear that a total ban to smoking indoors and outdoors, including the hospitality sector, is the only effective option to protect us from involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke. EU citizens have the right to clean air, and this includes to walk, eat outdoors, or wait for the bus without being forced to breathe carcinogenic substances from tobacco. EFA believes it is time for the European Union to re-launch stricter smoke-free legislation to effectively warrantee our protection from second-hand smoke”.

Tobacco kills 2 out of 3 smokers. (8) Europe has the highest smoking prevalence in the world, with 1 in 4 Europeans smoking, and is the region where non-smokers are the most exposed. (9)

While waiting for new data on exposure to second-hand smoke, EFA invites the European Union to adopt stricter measures to forbid tobacco smoking in all public spaces, to promote free smoking cessation programmes, and to harmonise access to care and rehabilitation for those whose health has been impacted by tobacco use. (10)

Tobacco is a proven and classified carcinogen, causes a great deal of respiratory disease – and is a major source of nuisance and exacerbation for people with asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Notes to editors:
(1) Special Eurobarometer 429: Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes, European Commission, May 2015:

(2) Global estimate of the burden of disease from second-hand smoke, World Health Organisation, 2010:

(3) The European Union signed the FCTC in 2003, that includes Article 8 on the protection from exposure to tobacco smoke:

(4) Commission calls for Smoke Free Europe by 2012, European Commission Press Release, 30 June 2009:

(5) Council recommendation of 30 November 2009 on smoke-free environments (2009/C 296/02)

(6) Overview of smoke-free legislation, European Commission, 2013:

(7) Towards a smoke free Europe, European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention, September 2016:

(8) Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, February 2015:

(9) Prevalence of tobacco smoking, World Health Organisation, 2016:

(10) Harmonising prevention and other measures for COPD patients across Europe, European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations, 2014:

The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) is an alliance of 42 allergy, asthma and COPD patients’ organisations in 25 European countries and it works for European patients with allergy, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to live uncompromised lives, have the right and access to the best quality care and a safe environment.

For more information contact:  +32 (0) 2 227 2712