In order to launch a broad public consultation on the best way to promote smoke-free environments in the EU, the Commission adopted on 30 January 2007 a Green Paper "Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level"
The Commission was particularly interested in stakeholders' views on the scope of measures to tackle passive smoking and the extent of EU involvement in promoting smoke-free environments.
The Commission received more than 300 contributions from a wide range of stakeholders, including EU Institutions, Member States' authorities, the health sector, tobacco-related organisations, the social partners and individuals."
The consultation showed a clear support for comprehensive smoke-free policies in all enclosed workplaces and public places and for further EU action to promote smoke-free environments throughout the Member States.
This report summarizes the main findings of the Green Paper consultation.
According to conservative estimates, over 79 000 adults, including 19 000 non-smokers, died in the EU in 2002 due to exposure to tobacco smoke at home (72 000) and in their workplace (7300).
A Eurobarometer survey(3 MB) of March 2009 found 84% of EU citizens in favour of smoke-free offices and other indoor workplaces, 79% in favour of smoke-free restaurants, and 61% supporting smoke-free bars and pubs.
Protecting EU citizens from passive smoking
The 2009 Council Recommendation strengthened smoke-free legislation within public spaces, as well as EU cooperation on tobacco control.
According to the implementation report of 2013, 17 EU countries had comprehensive smoke-free legislation in place. Among these, Ireland, Greece, Bulgaria, Malta, Spain and Hungary have the strictest smoke-free provisions with a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places, on public transport and in workplaces, with only limited exceptions allowed.
Status on the various smoke-free regulations in the EU
In February 2013 the Commission published a report summarising the state of implementation of the Council Recommendation on smoke-free environments of 2009. The report finds that:
- All EU countries have adopted measuresto protect citizens against exposure to tobacco smoke, but the national measures differ considerably in extent and scope
- Complex legislation (i.e. legislation with exemptions) is found to be particularly difficult to enforce in some EU countries, making enforcement a problem
- The actual exposure rates for EU citizens dropped from 2009 to 2012 (e.g. for citizens visiting bars and pubs the exposure rate dropped from 46% to 28% and for citizens visiting restaurants this rate dropped from 31% to 14%)
- Belgium, Spain and Poland are examples of countries where the adoption of comprehensive legislation led to very significant drops in tobacco smoke exposure within short time period
- The health effects of smoke-free legislation are immediate and include a reduction in the incidence of heart attacks and improvements in respiratory health, while the economic effect of smoke-free legislation is positive or neutral
The actual exposure rates for EU-citizens visiting drinking or eating establishments is also assessed in the context of the Eurobarometer. According to the latest figures (2017) actual exposure rates dropped further to 20% (bars and pubs) and to 9% (restaurants).
View the report on various smoke-free regulations in the EU as:
- Detailed overview of the legislation in the EU
- Table of smoke-free legislation and its implementation in the EU
- Implementation report of the Recommendation by the Member States
The Council Recommendation on smoke-free environments was adopted as the result of consultation and legislative process, on 30 November 2009, calling on EU countries to act in three main areas:
- Adopt and implement laws to fully protect their citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in enclosed public places, workplaces and public transport, within three years of the adoption of the Recommendation
- Enhance smoke-free laws with supporting measures such as protecting children, encouraging efforts to give up tobacco use and pictorial warnings on tobacco packages
- Strengthen cooperation at EU level by setting up a network of national focal points for tobacco control
- Tobacco in the EU : Exposure to second hand smoke reduced, but still too high, says Commission report
- The Fight Against Tobacco in the EU
- Commission calls for Smoke Free Europe by 2012
- Question and Answers on the Commission Proposal on smoke-free environments