Prevention of smoking

Table of Contents:

Prevention of smoking

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Prevention of smoking


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Public health > Health determinants: lifestyle

Prevention of smoking

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 2003/54/EC of 2 December 2002 on the prevention of smoking and on initiatives to improve tobacco control [Official Journal L 22 of 25.1.2003].


In accordance with Article 152 of the EC Treaty, the Community strives to ensure a high level of public health protection by complementing national policies. Smoking remains the biggest cause of avoidable death in Europe. The advertising, marketing and promotion strategies of the tobacco industry foster tobacco consumption and help to increase the mortality and morbidity associated with tobacco products. Some of these strategies are aimed more particularly at young people of school age. Studies have shown that 60 % of smokers have their first cigarette before the age of 13, and 90 % start smoking before the age of 18. The Recommendation accordingly focuses more closely on the prevention of smoking among children and adolescents.

The measures advocated are additional to the provisions of the Directive on tobacco products adopted in 2001, and those of the Directive on advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products adopted in May 2003. Europe’s legislators have, moreover, ensured that these measures are consistent with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO), which, at the time of adoption of the Recommendation, was still being negotiated.

Reducing the supply of tobacco products to children and adolescents

The Recommendation urges the Member States to adopt legislative and/or administrative measures designed to prevent the sale of tobacco products to children and adolescents, e.g. by:

  • requiring vendors of tobacco products to establish that purchasers are old enough, according to the age limit set by national law;
  • removing tobacco products from self-service displays;
  • restricting access to vending machines;
  • restricting distance sales, e.g. via the Internet;
  • prohibiting the sale of sweets and toys intended for children and manufactured with the intention that the product and/or packaging has the appearance of a tobacco product;
  • prohibiting the sale of cigarettes individually or in packets of fewer than 19 cigarettes.

Restricting the advertising and promotion of tobacco products

The Recommendation urges the Member States to adopt measures aimed at prohibiting the following forms of advertising and promotion:

  • the use of tobacco brand names on non-tobacco products or services;
  • the use of promotional items (ashtrays, lighters, parasols, etc.) and tobacco samples;
  • the use and communication of sales promotions, such as discounts, free gifts, premiums or opportunities to participate in promotional contests or games;
  • the use of billboards, posters and other indoor or outdoor advertising techniques (such as advertising on cigarette vending machines);
  • the use of advertising in cinemas.

Measures targeting manufacturers of tobacco products

The Member States are urged to take steps to require manufacturers of tobacco products to declare the expenditure they incur on advertising, marketing, sponsorship and promotional campaigns.

Protection against passive smoking

The Member States are urged to implement legislation providing suitable protection from the effects of passive smoking at workplaces, in enclosed public places, and on public transport. In particular, it is recommended that priority consideration be given to educational establishments, health-care facilities and places providing services to children.

Other measures

The Recommendation calls on the Member States to strengthen programmes aimed at both discouraging the initial use of tobacco products and overcoming tobacco addiction. They are urged also to adopt and implement appropriate measures for the pricing of tobacco products so as to discourage tobacco consumption.


Every two years, the Member States should inform the Commission of the action taken in response to the Recommendation. No later than one year after receipt of this information from the Member States, the Commission is to report on the implementation of the proposed measures and to consider the need for further action.

Related Acts

Directive 2003/33/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products [Official Journal L 152 of 20.6.2003].

This Directive seeks to prohibit the advertising of tobacco products in the press and other printed publications, in radio broadcasting and in information society services. Sponsorship of events or activities having cross-border effects and aiming to promote tobacco products will also be prohibited.

Directive 2001/37/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2001 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products [Official Journal L 194 of 18.7.2001].

This Directive concerns the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products in the Member States of the EU, in particular the use of warnings on packets, the prohibition of descriptions such as “mild” or “light”, the maximum tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields, and the prohibition of tobacco for oral use.

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