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Home > Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Special Eurobarometer 506.

Kantar. (2021) Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Special Eurobarometer 506. Brussels: European Commission.

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Tobacco consumption remains the largest avoidable health risk in the European Union, and is responsible for 700,000 deaths each year. Around 50% of smokers die prematurely, resulting in the loss of an average of 14 years of life per smoker. Tobacco consumption is the leading cause of preventable cancer, with 27% of all cancers attributed to tobacco use. In addition, smokers are also more likely to suffer a range of illnesses because of their tobacco use, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The European Union and its Member States have been working to reduce the use of tobacco and related products through a range of measures, including regulating tobacco and related products, restricting the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco and related products, implementing smoke-free environments and running anti-smoking campaigns. Some of the last initiatives include the revised Tobacco Products Directive, which became applicable in the Member States on 20 May 2016. The Directive mandates a range of measures including prominent pictorial health warnings on packets of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco, a ban on cigarettes and rollyour-own tobacco with characterising flavours as well as certain safety and quality requirements, packaging and labelling rules for e-cigarettes. The aim of the Tobacco Products Directive is to facilitate the functioning of the internal market while protecting public health and, in particular, to protect the public with a focus on young people from the harmful effects of tobacco consumption, as well as assisting smokers to give up, and discouraging people, especially the young people, from taking up tobacco use in the first place. The European Commission regularly carries out public opinion polls to monitor Europeans' attitudes to a range of tobacco-related issues.

This survey is the most recent in a series that has been carried out since 2003, with the last survey in 2017. The general aim of these surveys is to assess the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke in public places, to explore the motivations for smoking, and to help identify measures to reduce the number of smokers in the EU. In addition to these general themes, the current survey also explores the use, the exposure to and the advertising of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and heated tobacco products. In particular, the current survey explores:

  • Prevalence in the EU – of tobacco, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products;
  • The type of tobacco products consumed;
  • Use of products containing cannabis;  The age Europeans start using tobacco as well as the frequency of use;
  • Issues related to starting smoking and methods tried to stop smoking;
  • Issues related to taking up the use of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products and methods tried to stop using them;
  • Factors that influence the choice of cigarettes, e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products;  Exposure to tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products in public spaces;
  • Perceptions of harm from e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products;
  • Exposure to advertising for smoking tobacco products, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products;
  • Attitudes to tobacco, e-cigarette and heated tobacco products control policies.

Whenever possible, the results from the present survey are compared with those from previous surveys, and in particular with the most recent survey from 2017.

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