Will UK lose its top place in European tobacco control ranking?

Friday 31 May 2013

The UK could be about to lose its top ranking for tobacco control measures in Europe as Ireland steals the limelight following its decision to proceed with standardised packaging for tobacco next year. [1] According to an independent analysis of a range of tobacco control measures, in recent years the UK had the highest score of all 27 EU member states. [2] However, unless the UK stops dithering and decides to proceed with standard packs, Ireland will snatch the UK’s crown.

ASH Chief Executive, Deborah Arnott, said:

“The UK had the chance to become the second country in the world to introduce standard tobacco packaging but is now lagging behind as Ireland takes the lead. For every day that Westminster dithers, another 570 children will take up smoking. There is no excuse for any further delay. The UK government should follow Ireland’s example and bring forward legislation to stop the promotion of tobacco via cigarette packs. It’s popular and effective: now Parliament should be allowed to decide.”

Today is World No Tobacco Day, an initiative by the World Health Organization to encourage nations to implement a range of tobacco control measures and so reduce the annual burden of 6 million deaths a year from tobacco use. The theme this year is banning advertising, promotion and sponsorship. [3]


Notes and Links

[1] Press release of the Irish Government. http://healthupdate.gov.ie/category/news-room

[2] Joossens L & Raw M. The Tobacco Control Scale 2010 in Europe. Association of European Cancer Leagues, 2011. Joossens L & Raw M. Progress in tobacco control in 30 European Countries, 2005 to 2007. Berne, Swiss Cancer League, 2007.

[3] For more information on this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme see: http://www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2013/en/index.html
Implementing a ban on tobacco advertising is a requirement of the global treaty on tobacco: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The 2012 status report found that 19 countries representing 425 million people or 6% of the world’s population, now have comprehensive measures to eliminate tobacco advertising (except for packaging) while 74 countries (38% of all countries) do not have any or have only very limited restrictions.

[4] The UK government launched its consultation on tobacco packaging on 16th April 2012. Since then, it is estimated that around 230,000 children will have taken up smoking.