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Non-smokers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for non-smokers.

Do you suffer from having to breathe second-hand smoke from someone else’s cigarette? Even if protection for passive smokers has improved considerably in the EU, one in five citizens is still exposed to second-hand smoke.

Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death in Europe, responsible for about 90 % of lung cancers, and causes other forms of cancer, including of the mouth and throat. It raises the risk of cardiovascular diseases and can lead to lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Inhaling second-hand smoke raises non-smokers’ risk of developing the same health issues as smokers. Babies and children are particularly vulnerable.

© vchalup / Fotolia

In the EU one in every four citizens aged 15 or over is a smoker. True to the saying ‘the best way to quit is never to start’, the EU aims to deter people, especially the young, from taking it up. Measures to protect Europeans against the harmful effects of smoking range from laws on packaging, labelling and the ingredients in tobacco products; restrictions on tobacco advertising; tax measures and combating illicit trade; to anti-tobacco campaigns (‘Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable’ targeted EU smokers aged 25-34, with over 480 000 benefitting from the iCoach tool).

Laws on smoke-free environments, such as indoor workplaces, public transport, and restaurants and bars, are the responsibility of national governments; the EU’s simply coordinates. All EU countries have national rules in place, even though they vary in scope. Overall results show the positive, and immediate, health effects of indoor smoking bans.

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