Health ministers from the 53 European member nations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Sept. 16 agreed to a plan to make “tobacco a thing of the past” within the next decade.
The member nations—who convened at the WHO’s 65th session of the Regional Committee for Europe in Vilnius, Lithuania—intend to realize this goal by enforcing a series of smoke-free laws and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and by implementing new educational initiatives. In addition, the roadmap calls for an end to portrayals of smoking in the entertainment industry as well as training to teach health care and family support workers to deliver smoking-cessation interventions.
The WHO has urged European governments to set national targets for significant reductions in tobacco use by 2025. Ireland, Scotland and Finland aim to have smoke-free populations by 2015, 2034 and 2040, respectively.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said, “The generation growing up now cannot comprehend that people used to smoke on airplanes, buses, in restaurants or in offices,” and that “the dream of a Europe where tobacco control has succeeded is not unrealistic.”