The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

UK leads tobacco control in Europe

graph 420pxThe United Kingdom has the most comprehensive tobacco control measures in Europe, the latest Tobacco Control scale has found.

The Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL) produced the annual scale, which describes the results of a tobacco control activity survey in 34 European countries in 2013.

Despite the UK taking the lead for the third time in a row, ECL’s Luk Joossens and the scale’s author, Martin Raw, said the results were disappointing.

Both agreed that if the scale were an exam with a 51 percent score needed to pass, 24 countries (almost 71 percent of the field) would have failed.

The scale of measures

Countries were judged according to a scale of measures considered essential components of a comprehensive tobacco control program.

The measures were:
• 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 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.

Country rankings

Four countries (United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Norway) with over 60 points lead the rankings, with a gap of four points to the next group. Six countries that also did well had scores in the 50s: Turkey, France, Malta, Spain, Finland and Ukraine.

All of these countries have in common: high prices, comprehensive smoke-free legislation, comprehensive advertising bans and, with the exception of Finland, pictorial health warnings. However, the scale found that all these countries still had room for improvement.

Other findings

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 scale for the first time and surprisingly, Ukraine went straight to the top 10, 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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