EU launches anti-smoking campaign
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Mar 1 (CNA) -- The European Union launched today in all its 25 members a new anti-smoking campaign, under the slogan ''HELP - For a life without tobacco'', at an estimated cost of 72 million euro.
The European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Cypriot Markos Kyprianou said that eight out of ten smokers start in their teenage years and every year, 650,000 EU citizens die from tobacco related disease.
''I am determined to do everything I can to stop young people taking up smoking, and to help young smokers kick the habit before it ruins their health. I want to see a major shift in our society, where being smoke-free becomes the norm and the smoke-addicted are a dwindling minority. If all EU countries followed the lead of Ireland, Italy and Malta and banned smoking in public places it would go a long way to achieving this,'' he added.
Kyprianou kicked off the campaign at the Rond-Point Schuman outside the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels by unveiling the campaign slogan “HELP: For a Life Without Tobacco” on a giant inflatable structure which will tour all 25 EU capitals.
Kyprianou said that ''the sickness and death caused by smoking costs EU countries 100 billion euro a year. Prevention and information campaigns like HELP are an investment in a healthier and more prosperous future for our citizens. As well as promoting tobacco-free lifestyles to young people, the campaign will also highlight the dangers of passive smoking and support the trend towards tobacco-free public places.”
The European Commission has earmarked 72 million euro for the new campaign between now and 2008. Adolescents (15 to 18 year olds) and young adults (18 to 30 years olds) will be the main target groups.
HELP is the second major EU-wide anti-smoking campaign run by the Commission. It will build on the experience of the first such campaign, “Feel Free to Say No”, which ran between 2002 and 2004 and achieved over a billion contacts with young people throughout the EU.