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EFA was invited by the European Commission to provide input to a targeted consultation on the update of the Council Recommendation on Smoke-Free Environments. The update is a key part of a wider evaluation and future revision of the EU policies on tobacco control, in a process that aims to contribute to an EU ‘Tobacco-Free Generation’ by 2040.  

This Council Recommendation is the only EU-level measure - though non-legislative - that seeks to address exposure to second-hand smoke directly. Its initial version (2009) called Member States to provide protection from tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, indoor public places, public transport and, as appropriate, other public places.

With the current consultation, the Commission looks to broaden the scope in two ways: expand to cover also e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products which appeal, in particular, to young consumers; and allow for a broader spectrum of areas where the recommendation must apply, through a better definition of certain outdoor and quasi-outdoor spaces.

EFA sees the broadening of scope as absolutely necessary to respond to current realities, in view of the emergence of novel tobacco products but also given the increasing awareness on the effects of second-hand smoke on health.

For EFA, it is crucial to keep usually crowded outdoor areas  smoke-free, including the hospitality sector e.g. restaurants, bars and pubs; public transport stations and stops; outdoor sportsgrounds; beaches; but also areas frequented by vulnerable groups, such as public playgrounds, hospitals and nurseries.

We expect this updated recommendation to have a considerable impact, both in terms of reducing the use of tobacco and mitigating the exposure to second-hand smoke. More broadly, these measures would contribute to the de-normalisation of tobacco use, which could lead more users to quit. In addition, they would safeguard the right to clean air by limiting the choices of smokers and not of non-smokers, as it happens now.

EFA also argues that the enforcement of these changes, while having only limited costs, could lead to huge economic benefits, especially when looking at the healthcare system. In this regard, we express the hope that national authorities will find the political will and enforcement capacities to ensure smoke-free air for all, everywhere.

You can access the full EFA response to the consultation here.


[ Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash ]