Health

Monday 22 September 2014

Ireland in top tier for tobacco controls in Europe

Ireland in top tier for tobacco controls
Ireland in top tier for tobacco controls

Ireland has taken second place in a league table of countries with the most comprehensive tobacco control measures in Europe.

The ranking, which has the United Kingdom at number one, was presented at the European Conference on Tobacco or Health.

The report of the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL) describes the results of a survey of tobacco control activity in 34 European countries in 2013, using the Tobacco Control Scale (TCS).

Countries were judged according to a scale of measures considered to be essential components of a tobacco control programme.

They included:

* Price increases through higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

* Bans/restrictions on smoking in public and work places.

* Better consumer information, including public information campaigns, media coverage and publicising research findings.

* Comprehensive bans on the advertising and promotion of all tobacco products, logos and brand names.

* Large, direct health warning labels on cigarette boxes and other tobacco products.

* Treatment to help dependent smokers stop, including increased access to medications.

Ireland is among four countries along with the UK, Iceland and Norway leading the rankings with over 60 points. There is a gap of four points to the next group.

Six countries are doing well with scores in the 50s (Turkey, France, Malta, Spain, Finland, Ukraine), although even these top 10 have plenty of room for improvement.

These 10 countries have in common high prices, comprehensive smoke free legislation, comprehensive advertising bans and, with the exception of Finland, pictorial health warnings.

Eight countries have display ban legislation (compared to just three in 2010) and 15 countries have pictorial health warnings on tobacco products (six in 2010).

Ukraine, Croatia and Serbia were included in the survey for the first time and the surprise was that Ukraine went straight into the top 10 in the table, better than Sweden, Hungary, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Overall, countries that failed to undertake new initiatives lost points and fell in the ranking. Countries with comprehensive tobacco control policies are leading tobacco control in Europe.

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