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We Have Made Reducing Tobacco Consumption A Key Priority – EU Commissioner

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – European Union (EU) Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides has declared that the EU has deliberately and consistently placed high priority on reducing the consumption of tobacco.

The EU Commissioner made the observation in a statement to mark this year’s edition of the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), which is celebrated on May 31 annually by the World Health Organization (WHO) and public health champions around the world.

This year’s theme is “We need food, not tobacco”. The 2023 global campaign aims to raise awareness about alternative crop production and marketing opportunities for tobacco farmers and encourage them to grow sustainable, nutritious crops.

It also aimed at exposing the tobacco industry’s efforts to interfere with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with sustainable crops, thereby contributing to the global food crisis.

Tobacco growing harms our health, the health of farmers and the planet’s health. The tobacco industry interferes with attempts to substitute tobacco growing, contributing to the global food crisis.

This campaign encourages governments to end tobacco growing subsidies and use the savings to support farmers to switch to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition.

The 2023 WNTD campaign calls on governments and policy-makers to step up legislation, develop suitable policies and strategies, and enable market conditions for tobacco farmers to shift to growing food crops that would provide them and their families with a better life.

Notably, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control offers specific principles and policy options on the promotion of economically viable alternatives for tobacco workers, growers and individual sellers (outlined in Article 17), and on enhancing protection of the environment and the health of people (Article 18). The implementation of these provisions should be strengthened in countries.

Kyriakides noted that tobacco use remains the single largest avoidable health risk in the EU today, adding that it contributes to many serious health problems.

“It remains the leading cause of preventable cancer in the EU, with over a quarter of all cancers attributed to it. We know for a fact that tobacco kills up to half of its users, and this must change in a strong European Health Union that delivers for all citizens.

“With Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, we have made reducing tobacco consumption a key priority with a very clear goal – to create a ‘Tobacco-free Generation’. Despite considerable progress made in addressing the use of tobacco in recent years, the number of smokers in the EU is still too high. We need to step up our action to deliver on the commitment to reduce tobacco consumption in the EU population from today’s 25 percent to 5 percent by 2040”, she said.

This, according to her, is why the EU will be proposing new recommendations to its Member States on promoting smoke-free environments to further reduce the use of tobacco and protect their citizens, this year.

“As an example, these actions will allow us to do more to limit the consumption of new tobacco products entering the market, as well as the impact of second-hand smoke in outdoor spaces.

“This is an important step in our commitment to better protecting non-smokers, especially vulnerable population groups such as children. It will also help us reduce smoking and the use of new tobacco products across the EU, especially amongst young people.

“World Tobacco Day is a timely reminder that we can and must all take our health into our own hands. Quitting smoking goes a long way towards this”, she stressed.


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