Plenary Session 2B: Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation and Prevention
Nicotine in tobacco, a widely and legally available product, is highly addictive, and tobacco use remains socially acceptable in certain societies. There are 70 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke, including nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, cadmium, toluidine, and vinyl chloride.
The rate of tobacco use, approximately 3 in 10 adults, remains stubbornly high in Europe despite the availability of cost-effective interventions to control it. The World Health Organization (WHO) has validated several strategies that have proven to curtail tobacco use, including increased prices of tobacco products through taxation, banning of advertising and promotion of tobacco, and strong antismoking advertising. Use of smoke-free legislation to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace has also contributed to cancer prevention. The WHO also recommends provision of cessation programs. Since 2004, when Ireland introduced comprehensive national smoke-free legislation, many European countries have followed suit. Today, all 27 EU member state countries have some form of smoke-free strategy, including laws that ban smoking in all indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
Despite all of these efforts, there has been only little progress to date. Smoking is still regarded as a normal social activity, despite the fact that it is addictive and contributes significantly to disease, disability, and death. Smoke-free policies and other interventions must continue to focus on educating people about the health benefits of smoking cessation, limiting opportunities to smoke, and promoting denormalization of smoking.