Policy on Tobacco Use and Trade
Our vision is a democratic, diverse and peaceful world, where any individual can live up to their full potential, free from alcohol and other drugs.
Active strongly believes that everyone has the right to live in a safe and healthy environment. Active believes that the long-term and high goal is a tobacco free world, in which people’s fundamental right to a healthy environment and to a life-long healthcare endows them with their foremost right to make individual, healthy choices.
This Policy Programme aims to view the tobacco issue from a public health and social perspective. Active finds that, similarly to other drugs, also tobacco causes social exclusion and harm in the society.
2. tobacco related harm
Tobacco related harm is a multi dimensional problem, as it has social, economical, and environmental and health related impacts. Smoking tobacco is not the only tobacco product harmful for the individual and society, as a variety of tobacco products exist. Snuff, water pipes and chewing tobacco are widely spread in some cultures and should be managed together with other tobacco products, if the aim is to reduce tobacco related harm.
To comprehensively understand and effectively design measures to tackle the tobacco related harm, society must understand where tobacco consumption roots. The tobacco tradition and the pressure of the modern lifestyle; the impact of the tobacco industry on the economy and society; the economic and social situation in the society; the lack of strict and efficiently implemented tobacco legislation are all aspects that need to be considered while dealing with the subject.
a) Social aspect
Active considers tobacco not only a public health, but also a social issue. In today’s society the consumption of tobacco is too often considered a social factor bringing young people together; furthermore it is seen as a normal part of the society. In reality tobacco creates exclusion and undermines solidarity in various groups, teams and in society as a whole. Therefore a tobacco free lifestyle should become the norm and made attractive for young people.
There is a need for a holistic approach to prevent people, in particular young people, to start smoking and to reduce the number of active smokers.
Active is utmost concerned that more and more young people, in particular girls, start to smoke at an early age. It is a fact that the earlier a person starts to smoke the lower is the probability that he or she will ever quit.
Active stresses the fact that tobacco products are too easily accessible, in particular for youth. Various studies have proved that increased availability leads to an increase in consumption.
Active finds that the awareness of the risks of tobacco consumption, including ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke), is not sufficient. Too often tobacco is being promoted as a lifestyle product. Active sees the danger that especially young people fall for these images. This is also confirmed by recent studies.
Active underlines that parents and peers play an essential role in young people’s development, therefore parents in particular have to recognize their responsibility providing a tobacco free and healthy environment for their children.
b) Economic aspect
Tobacco addiction is expensive, both for the individual and for society. The tangible costs include health-care costs, production losses to the society resulting from sickness and death, research and education etc. The intangible costs, like the pain caused by the side-effects of smoking, no one can measure. It is proven that the economic profits for the economy of a country from use of tobacco products won’t exceed the costs tobacco causes to the society.
c) Medical aspect
Today tobacco consumption is the single largest cause of preventable death in Europe, causing 80'000 deaths per year in the European Union, an additional 19 000 deaths are caused by passive smoking .
Not only tobacco consumers but also non-consumers are affected by ETS, this is a problem especially on workplaces, where ventilation and separate rooms for smokers are not enough to protect non-smokers from pollution . Breathing in Environmental Tobacco Smoke is rarely a free choice. Fetuses and children are particularly vulnerable, as they cannot protect themselves from to tobacco related harm.
d) Legislative and political aspect
It is noteworthy that the legislation neither on national nor European level is wide enough to tackle tobacco related harm; furthermore the existing legislation is not being implemented efficiently. Active underlines that the regulation of the exposure to and the availability of tobacco products are the most effective prevention tools.
Active thinks that for decreasing the tobacco related harm, it is necessary not only to create the legislation, but also to implement it efficiently. Furthermore, continuous monitoring is needed in order to ensure the sustainable implementation of the legislation and to react on upcoming tobacco related harm threats.
3. Tobacco Industry
As every industry, also tobacco industry aims to highest possible profit. This includes targeted marketing strategies with the aim to promote and to sell its products, efficient lobbying in loosening tobacco related legislation and further lobbying for continuous national and European subsidies for tobacco producers.
High taxes, an age limit, a total ban on tobacco advertisement and a strict license system, have crucial impact on reducing the tobacco consumption. Active strongly condemns the tobacco subsidies spent from public financial resources and sees this as a direct contribution to increased tobacco consumption.
It is of great concern that young people in particular are targets of the marketing strategies of the tobacco industry, which use both hidden advertisement and commercial service in order to target different social groups effectively.
It is proven that tobacco is a gateway to alcohol and other drugs; especially what concerns the behavior of youth . Therefore it is of great concern that tobacco products contain more and more addiction increasing additives, such as ammonium , leading more easily to further substance, e.g. alcohol, abuse.
It is important to raise awareness of the social and health impact of tobacco consumption. Active underlines that awareness raising can only be done in combination of formal and non-formal education, as these complement each other and provide the needed added value.
Having a holistic approach to the drug issue, i.e. including legal drugs such as alcohol, and providing a drug free lifestyle, allows Active to offer young people a safe environment, free from substance abuse and the substance abuse related harm.
-raising awareness amongst young people in regards to the negative social and health impacts of active and/or passive consumption of tobacco
-offering tobacco free leisure time activities;
Active commits itself to:
-empowering young people to take actively part in decision making processes and therefore providing spaces for debating in and becoming a part of the decision making process on local, national and European level
-supporting actively campaigns aimed at reducing tobacco related harm, tobacco consumption, as well as promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle
-participating actively in decision making processes, by providing expertise and youth perspective on the tobacco issue, in particular underlining the fact to regard tobacco both from social and public health perspective
-encouraging its member organizations to set the tobacco free lifestyle as a precondition for individual membership.
Active advocates for:
1. Safe environments
-tobacco free environment in all public places, such as public transport, working places, educational facilities, health care facilities, entertainment facilities and public buildings; furthermore an effective smoking ban in all bars, restaurants and hotels should be introduced Europe wide
-all youth events and youth targeted activities must be tobacco free
-a Europe wide smoking ban on all educational facilities is crucial in creating a tobacco free normality
2. A stronger focus on prevention
-a holistic approach tackling tobacco issue must be developed in order to prevent young people from starting using tobacco
-to introduce educational programs on substance abuse and related harm to school curriculum, especially emphasizing the individual responsibility
-to develop holistic campaigns appealing to targeted social groups, in particular youth
-to ensure a high percentage of the tax revenue from the tobacco consumption to directly fund cessation, prevention and substitution programs
-to ensure that the tobacco industry is not involved in educational and prevention programs through funding, content contribution or any other support as these are ways of hidden advertisements
-Efficient help must be provided for individuals wishing to quit smoking
4. Law enforcement
-a Europe wide minimum age limit of 18 to purchase tobacco products
-a total ban on vending machines and internet sales of tobacco products
high taxation of tobacco products
-A strict tobacco sale license system
-efficient enforcement and implementation of existing legislation
-functional systems of monitoring and appropriate sanctions against the violations on local, national and European level
-Close and horizontal cooperation between decision makers, including also other society actors, e.g. NGOs active in respective field, in monitoring the implementation of the legislation
-a total ban on marketing strategies aimed to increase the selling of tobacco products
-a total ban on tobacco products advertisement
-prohibition of adding any other addictive substances to the tobacco products
-not to consider tobacco an ordinary agricultural product and to stop subsidizing tobacco producing
This Policy Programme is considering the European Youth Manifesto "For a Life without Tobacco", the Green Paper on a Smoke-Free Europe of the European Commission, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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