Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The European Commission paves the way for a youth smoking ban in 2030

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Friday, August 26th 2022 à 15:26 | Read 291 times

The Spanish association No Fumadores wants to create the first generation without tobacco (photo: WHO)
The Spanish association No Fumadores wants to create the first generation without tobacco (photo: WHO)
EU. The European Commission registered on Wednesday, August 24, 2022, a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) called "Call for a smoke-free environment and the first smoke-free European generation by 2030".

The promoters of this new ECI, led by the Spanish Raquel Fernández Megina, president of the association No Fumadores, call for legislation to prevent young people from falling into addiction to tobacco. Motivating this initiative by their desire to act on environmental hazards and those related to smoking, they want the sale of tobacco and nicotine products can no longer be purchased by citizens born from 2010 in all member states.
The association plans to ban the sale and consumption of tobacco (and thus avoid discarded butts) near all beaches and seashores. But also to create a European network of national parks without tobacco and butts and to eliminate all advertising on tobacco.

Approximately 4.5 trillion (billion of billions) cigarettes are thrown away each year in the world, notes the French platform Generation without tobacco (created by the National Committee against smoking - CNCT). It is the most widespread waste on earth.

1 million signatures needed to go further

Originating from the Lisbon Treaty (December 2007) and officially launched in April 2012, the ECI gives a right of political initiative to a group of at least seven European Union (EU) citizens from at least seven Member States. Once registered, submitters have 12 months - from the launch of their campaign, which must occur within six months - to collect one million signatures in at least seven EU member states.
ECIs that have already reached this stage include "Stop vivisection" (2012), "Let me Vote (rights to vote in any political election in the Member State of residence under the same conditions as nationals of that state - 2012) and "Ban glysophate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides" (2017).

The European Commission then has three months to study the initiative. If it "considers that a legislative act is an appropriate response, it will start to prepare a formal proposal," says the ECI website. This text will then be presented to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Since the ECI came into force ten years ago, the European Commission has received 118 applications for launch, of which 91 were admissible and could therefore be registered.

A turnover of €744 billion

According to a publication of the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2022, "tobacco causes more than eight million deaths each year, including about 1.2 million non-smokers involuntarily exposed to smoke". The institution also reveals that of the 1.3 billion smokers in the world, "more than 80% live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related disease and death is greatest. Tobacco use contributes to poverty, as households spend money on tobacco that they could have spent on basic needs such as food and shelter.

The tobacco industry is worth $744 billion worldwide. A manna distributed mainly between four companies: Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brand (formerly Imperial Tobacco) and Japan Tobacco. One American, two British and one Japanese, none of them has its headquarters in the European Union. However, the EU produces some 500 billion cigarettes per year (more than 950 per capita in 2017, i.e. three per day per capita) for a value of approximately €5 billion.

The largest tobacco producers are China (39.6% of the tobacco produced in the world), India (8.3%), Brazil (7%) and the United States (4.6%). The EU, where tobacco is grown in twelve countries, is in fifth place with less than 2% of world production. The seven largest tobacco producing countries in the EU are, in order, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Poland, Greece, France and Croatia. In 2018, in the EU, 66,000 hectares (half as much as in 2001) were devoted to the industry and operated by 26,000 specialized producers.

A European Commission report published in May 2021 indicated that "tobacco consumption in the EU has thus decreased from 26% of the population aged fifteen years and over in 2014 to 23% in 2020." The same document states that "the smoking rate among young people fell to 20% in 2020 (this rate was 25% in 2014 after peaking at 29% in 2017)."

A December 2016 Eurostat survey highlighted that the records are in Bulgaria (34.7% smokers) and Greece (32.6%) while the Swedes (16.7%) and Finns (19.3%) are the least attracted to tobacco.

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