WHO European Region commits to ‘de-normalising’ tobacco

Ministers of health from the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region have signed up to a roadmap that will make it possible for coming generations to make tobacco a thing of the past.

The roadmap lists the actions with the greatest impact in specific areas. One area involves the denormalization of tobacco, by:

  • enforcing smoke-free legislation, especially in children’s environments, such as schools and child care facilities, private homes and cars carrying children;
  • enforcing comprehensive bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and working with the entertainment industry on the portrayal of smoking and the placement of tobacco products in the media; and
  • increasing public awareness through educational initiatives to prevent young people from starting to smoke, informing them about the risks of children exposed to second-hand smoke, particularly in cars and homes, and training health care and family support workers to deliver brief interventions for smoking cessation as a routine part of their work.

Scotland has set the goal of creating a generation of young people who do not want to smoke, by “denormalizing” measures, such as smoke-free laws in places where children gather, peer-based prevention programmes for adolescents, targeting parents for cessation and encouraging families to have smoke-free homes.

No government can succeed on its own in banning tobacco, as advertising, illicit trade and trade policies are not limited by geographical borders. Some countries have announced a target year to end tobacco use in their populations: Ireland by 2025, Finland by 2040 and Scotland by 2034. They are paving the way to a tobacco-free future by introducing plain packaging, banning smoking in cars carrying children and aiming for a tobacco-free millennial generation. Reaching this target will demand international cooperation to ensure effective implementation. The roadmap specifies the need for partnerships to make tobacco a thing of the past, closing the gap between countries to reach the common destination.

Download the roadmap from the euro.who.int website