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31 May 2024
Asthma , COPD
PREVENT, - Tobacco & Smoking,

On World No Tobacco Day 2024, EFA Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament member from Spain, Idoia Morán dives into the issues around youth smoking. Together with young allergy and asthma patients, EFA is calling on the EU to fight tobacco and protect lung health, especially among children.

In Europe, 29% of young people aged 15-24 smoke and use of vaping products. Smoking during childhood and adolescence causes significant health problems among young people, including an increase in the number and severity of respiratory illnesses, decreased physical fitness and potential effects on lung growth and function.

This World No Tobacco Day 2024, we highlight that Europe needs all the instruments available to de-normalise, discourage and restrict smoking and vaping among the Youth.

Spain: a success story?

In Spain, where one of the EFA Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament members, Idoia Morán comes from, tobacco is responsible for 56,000 deaths annually, accounting for 13.7% of all mortality. In 2020, 22.1% of the Spanish adult population smoked, a figure barely higher than the 22.0% of ex-smokers that same year. 

Regarding young people aged 14 to 18, in 2021, 23.9% had consumed tobacco in the last 30 days, indicating the ease of access to this substance despite its prohibition for minors. Fortunately, both among the younger population and adults, the prevalence of tobacco consumption is decreasing. Spain was one of the first European countries to implement, in January 2006, a comprehensive law for tobacco control, further strengthened in 2010. These regulations, developed under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), led to a drastic reduction of environmental exposure to tobacco smoke in public spaces. 

New tobacco control plan introduced in Spain – what does it include?

The new Comprehensive Plan, presented by the Ministry of Health in April 2024, addresses tobacco control from a public health perspective Among the measures to be implemented, the plan includes some significant ones, such as plain packaging.

No fancy packaging for tobacco products

Plain packaging prohibits logos, colours, brand imagery, or promotional information other than the standardized brand name on of the packaging. The aim is to reduce the appeal of tobacco products, eliminate promotion and advertising, and increase the effectiveness of health warnings. 

Expanded smoke-free environments

Regarding SHS, the plan brings the extension of smoke-free and e-cigarette aerosol-free spaces in certain community and social outdoor environments. However, details still need to be finalised, especially whether measures will include a total ban in the hospitality sector. 

What do respiratory patients think?

Vulnerable patients, especially those with respiratory diseases, have welcomed the new plan presented by the Spanish Ministry of Health. Improved enforcement of laws for smoke-free areas, along with proper signage of these places has generated positive expectations among them. However, given the complexity of legislative competence in health matters in Spain, where 17 autonomous communities have the authority to legislate, there are fears that the plan may not be effective enough.

“As a carer of COPD patients, I have been working with people severely affected by smoking, seeing the huge impact it can have not only on respiratory health but overall quality of life. The EU has a key role in establishing a strong policy framework to reduce the impact of smoking and vaping on public health.  

Together with the other members of the EFA Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament, we believe that 100% smoke-free environments are an absolute necessity across the society. We urge the Commission to present an ambitious update to the Council Recommendation on Smoke-Free Environments as soon as possible, as a key step to de-normalise smoking and vaping, and reduce health burden from exposure to second-hand smoke. An update that truly rises to the challenge of achieving a Smoke-Free Generation in Europe by 2040,”  states Idoia Morán, a member of EFA Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament from EFA Spanish Member Organisation FENAER.

Learn more about the activities of the European Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament, lead by EFA.