EESC opinion: Smoke-free environments

Key points

Effective protection from exposure to tobacco smoke should apply simply to "workplaces" especially indoor workplaces with no separate areas for smokers as well as to all public places frequented by children and young people up to eighteen years of age.

The Council should consider shortening the three-year adoption timeframe proposed by the Commission to cover the current generation of secondary school pupils (14-18 years), who are at risk of going from passive smoking to active smoking.

School-based educational and counselling strategies should ensure that every child or young person is correctly, fully and regularly informed of the realities of smoking and its harmful effects, and of the carcinogenic effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).

Smoke-free policies should be complemented with supporting measures, including:

  • extending the scope of Directive 2004/37 on exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (to include ETS);
  • bolstering the requirements regarding the protection of workers from tobacco smoke in Directive 89/654/EEC(prohibiting smoking in all workplaces);
  • amending the Directive on dangerous substances (67/548/EEC) so as to classify ETS as a carcinogen;
  • calling on the Member States and the Commission to adopt the new term "ECTS": Environmental Carcinogenic Tobacco Smoke, in place of "ETS"; and
  • framing education policies to ensure that children and young people are correctly, fully and regularly informed of the effects of smoking and ETS.

Article 4 should be complemented at the end of the paragraph with "protection from tobacco smoke in public settings frequented by children and young people" (open air playgrounds for children, leisure venues, open-air or indoor discos, clubs, bars frequented by children or young people under 18, and other such places).

The definition of national focal points for tobacco control should include the phrase "and for controlling/eliminating public ETS exposure".