Roadmap signposts the way to a tobacco-free generation

Malin Bring

Achieving a tobacco-free, new generation came a few steps closer as the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region endorsed a roadmap of action to strengthen implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

Implementing the WHO FCTC can help countries prevent adolescents from starting to smoke and contribute to achieving the global noncommunicable disease (NCD) goal of a 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025. Evidence shows that raising tobacco taxes is the most effective way to lower consumption, and is even more effective among adolescents, a very price-sensitive group. Banning advertisements and requiring plain packaging, with graphic pictures, tend to make tobacco packages less appealing to adolescents.

Although the Region has the highest proportion of deaths (16%) attributable to tobacco use globally, smoking is decreasing in the adult population of much of Europe, even in some countries that are net exporters of tobacco. The trends show a decrease among adolescents in western Europe, especially for girls, while those in eastern Europe show an increase. Countries are working towards reaching the global goal of a 30% reduction in tobacco use by 2025, supported by actions to denormalize tobacco such as:

  • enforcing smoke-free legislation, especially in children's environments
  • enforcing comprehensive bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  • increasing public awareness to prevent young people from starting to smoke.

A tobacco-free generation is also a key area of the WHO strategy for children and adolescent health in the European Region.