Slovenia is paving the way to a smoke free society

Samo Belavic (National Institute of Public Health, Slovenia)

According to recent statistics, in Slovenia 3 600 die per year (10 people each day) as a consequence of illnesses related to smoking tobacco, and 900 die before the age of 60. Of 15 year olds, 40% have tried smoking, and nearly 1 in 8 has smoked at least once a week or more, with no difference between genders.

These alarming figures, as well as the commitment of the country to fully implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and to comply with European Union tobacco regulations, were the stimuli to draft new tobacco legislation. This legislation aims to introduce a comprehensive and effective system of control over the use of tobacco and to achieve a high level of public health and consumer protection. In this process, the country was substantially supported by WHO/Europe, which provided technical inputs and advocated for adopting a strong law several times at the highest Slovene executive and legislative bodies.

The Act on the Restriction of the Use of Tobacco and Related Products was adopted in February 2017 and ranks Slovenia among countries with the strictest tobacco regulation. The Act stipulates:

  • a comprehensive ban on all tobacco and related products advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including a display ban on tobacco and related products at points of sale;
  • a ban on cross-border and domestic distance sale of tobacco and related products (including the  
    Internet);
  • the implementation of licensing for retailers of tobacco and related products;
  • a ban on the depiction of tobacco and related products or their use on television;
  • a ban on selling tobacco and related products to minors (under 18);
  • a ban on using e-cigarettes and other tobacco-related products in enclosed public and work places;
  • plain packaging (coming into force on 1 January 2020).

The Act also introduces a double increase in fines, for example a fine of €50 000 for selling tobacco and related products without licence.

On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2017, a conference was organized jointly by the WHO Country Office in Slovenia, the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute. More than 100 participants gathered to celebrate and to discuss how to best ensure implementation of the new Act.

Speaking at the conference, Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc said: "Slovenia has taken a decisive step towards meeting the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, since through the combined efforts of the state, experts and civil society we have just adopted a comprehensive range of measures of proven effectiveness in the field of tobacco control”. For her continuous effort and in recognition of outstanding work nationally and internationally in the area of tobacco control, Minister Celarc was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation signed by Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, and a commemorate medal. These were given to her by Dr Darina Sedlakova, WHO Representative in Slovenia. “Thanks to the new strong act on tobacco control, Slovenia has progressed in protecting the health of its people from the deadly effects of tobacco. WHO will continue to support the country on its way to a smoke-free society,” she said.