Smoke-free environments and the advertising of tobacco and related products

Smoke free environment sign in a forest, photo by Michel Piccaya/Adobe Stock

Michel Piccaya/Adobe Stock

Although EU member states are generally compliant with national rules on smoke-free environments and tobacco-related advertising, some areas require closer scrutiny, including protecting children from the harms of smoking.

What is the issue?

While most EU member states have successfully enforced tobacco controls, new tobacco-related products and forms of marketing have created implementation and monitoring challenges in the EU.

How did we help?

Working with our partners, ICF, we examined two important aspects of tobacco control: advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and smoke-free environments. Researchers conducted literature and policy reviews, interviews and workshops with key stakeholders, a survey of citizens in ten EU member states, and an assessment of public perspectives on advertisements for tobacco and related products.

The aim of the study was to provide up-to-date information on these areas to support EU policy development. The report, conducted for the European Commission, will now feed into the evaluation of advertising provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive and Tobacco Advertising Directive and support the work on the 2009 Council Recommendation on smoke-free environments.

What did we find?

We found that the compliance with national rules on smoke-free environments and advertising of tobacco and related products within the EU is high. Nevertheless, there are still areas requiring a closer look, more specifically:

  • The report recommends extending the current advertising prohibitions to unambiguously cover also heated tobacco products. Social media should now also be firmly included in the rules for advertising, and regulations should be more harmonious across the whole EU. Mandatory reporting by the tobacco industry on their promotional expenditures and stronger regulations on lobbying are also recommended.
  • Among suggestions for a smoke-free environment update, the report now in addition to the harmful ‘tobacco smoke’ also includes vapour from e-cigarettes and the emissions of heated tobacco products.

With regard to smoke-free environments there are still concerns raised about the current provisions protecting children. The ban could be extended to other places where youth might be present, such as sport venues, playgrounds, and open stadiums. Also, countries that have not yet done so could introduce a ban on smoking in private cars and other areas when minors are present.