Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Europe. It costs the European countries hundreds of billions of euros a year, contributes to poverty and leads to significant regional, social and economic inequalities in health. However, the remarkable progress made in tobacco control over the past decades in Europe gives hope that accelerated joint action of governments, the medical and public health community, and civil society will allow future generations of Europeans to live in a tobacco-free world. More and more countries around the world declare their intention to have the tobacco smoking endgame and work towards its strategy. It is time to meet new challenges and call upon the European Union, EU Member States, EU-associated countries, non-EU governments, the World Health Organization and all other public health stakeholders to strengthen this process in the entire European region.
Main goal and priority objectives
This Athens Declaration calls for ending the tobacco epidemic in Europe by 2040. It urges all European countries to prioritise the following objectives:
- To reduce the prevalence of current tobacco smoking to less than 5%
- To prevent the uptake of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), novel tobacco or nicotine-derived products among non-smokers and control their use among current cigarette smokers as long as their safety will be science and evidence proved”.
- To double the proportion of ex-smokers among ever smokers in each European country.
- To eliminate exposure to second hand smoke (SHS), especially among children and pregnant women, and to reduce SHS exposure among adults to at most 5%.
The Athens Declaration proposes especially to focus on current tobacco users with emphasis on activities made among low educated and disadvantaged social groups, including migrants. In order to prevent future challenges in tobacco control, the Declaration also calls for undertaking strong activities and policies that protect children and young people to use any nicotine product, particularly tobacco cigarettes.
The Athens Declaration calls for urgent action to enforce the following general and specific recommendations in all European countries.
- Fully implement the WHO FCTC and its Guidelines and relevant EU Directives
- Prepare the European Tobacco Endgame Strategy based on scientific principles and establish a Steering Committee for its enforcement
- Commit to scientific research to provide the knowledge to develop innovative methods, including the use of new technologies for tobacco control
- Fully enforce FCTC Article 5.3 across any public initiative and specifically in the field of public health, education and culture
- Increase and harmonize tobacco taxes, collect resources for tobacco control and research programs from levy from tobacco excise tax and propose reduced taxes for evidence-based medicines used for smoking cessation
- Prevent all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products by ratifying and incorporating the Protocol on Illicit Trade into country law acts
- Facilitate partnerships to eliminate global investment in the tobacco industry of pension funds Introduce plain packaging legislation and a comprehensive ban of tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship
- Introduce ban on duty-free tobacco
- Introduce ban of tobacco product display at points of sale
- Remove all flavour enhancers from tobacco products
- Introduce ban on production and sale of slim cigarettes
- Require all health care providers to deliver brief interventions in smoking cessation
- Establish accessible and affordable support and treatments, including quitline services, new medicines, IT communication and health professionals involvement to help smokers to quit.
- Integrate all tobacco control measures, including smoke-free policy, into all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, particularly covering human rights advocacy, environment protection and occupational health programs
- Enforce complete bans of smoking in public places, workplaces, public transport and venues, children playgrounds and entertainment venues, and in private cars carrying children and pregnant women
- Motivate and mobilize philanthropists and entrepreneurs to support smoke-free policies, and invest in tobacco control programmes and tobacco dependence treatment
- Develop and incorporate new evidence-based methods and technologies into tobacco control and smoking cessation interventions
- Implement paid mass media campaigns and media advocacy to emphasize the dangers of tobacco smoking and to advertise support where it is available
- Develop target tailored, country specific and regional strategies for tobacco control
- Build a European system for monitoring the tobacco trade, the tobacco epidemic and tobacco control policies
Athens May 26th, 2017