7 May 2020

ENSP Fact Sheet Series 2020

"COVID-19 pandemic and smoking behaviour"
is now available in French

The French version of the Fact Sheet Series #1/2020 is now available on the ENSP website. In this new fact sheet, ENSP summarised the evidence for smokers and novel tobacco users and made recommendations to be followed in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the version in English...
Read the version in French...

Stop smoking, protect your health!

In the context of COVID-19, it is more important than ever for smokers to protect their lungs due to the increased risk imposed by smoking. Thus, ENSP created a poster in order to raise awareness on the risks that tobacco use entails and to encourage smoking cessation and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

News from around the world

Ban of menthol cigarettes and rolling tobacco in the EU is effective as of May 2020

In May 2020 the four year phasing-out period for menthol cigarettes and menthol rolling tobacco of the EU Tobacco Product Directive (which entered into force in May 2014 and became applicable in all EU countries on May 20th 2016) comes to its end.

In fact, on May 20, two new EU directives are set to come into effect. Article 7 bans the sale of cigarettes with “characterizing flavors” such as menthol. Article 15 requires all tobacco products sold in the EU to comply with track-and-trace rules such as carrying a “unique identifier” to cut down on illicit trade.

Tobacco industry's response

According to tobaccoreporter, tobacco industry representatives are talking to the European Union about postponing the deadline to sell off stock that does not comply with the upcoming ban on menthol cigarettes and new track-and-trace requirements. 

The Covid-19 shutdown has left many retailers unable to sell off their noncompliant products and facing losses now that the lockdowns and travel restrictions in many EU countries have been extended into next month.

The EU Parliament has not commented on a possible extension.


Tobacco industry luanches alternative products
to circumvent the menthol ban

As menthol cigarettes face a European Union ban, Big Tobacco is finding creative ways to keep giving smokers their minty fix, Bloomberg.com reports.

In January, Imperial Brands Plc started selling cardboard strips that can be inserted into a cigarette pack or pouch of rolling tobacco to impart a peppermint aroma.  Japan Tobacco Inc. has introduced cigarillos—small cigars that are exempt from the ban—with capsules that release menthol at the push of a button.

The question is how many menthol smokers would rather quit smoking than switch to an alternative product. After Canada prohibited menthol-flavored tobacco in October 2017, quitting rates among menthol smokers in Ontario were higher than those of non-menthol smokers one year later, according to a study led by the University of Toronto’s Michael Chaiton and colleagues.

Whether Europe will see the same trend remains to be seen, as there are far more alternatives for menthol smokers available today.

Menthol sales are not being discontinued in Switzerland, which is outside the EU. The discrepancy in regulation could fuel smuggling.


Implementation in Ireland

In Ireland, menthol cigarettes and rolling tobacco, along with irregularly shaped packs such as skinny cigarettes will be banned from May 20. Also included in the ban are click dual cigarettes that change from normal to menthol.

The euronews article quotes Professor Des Cox, Chair of the Policy Group on Tobacco at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, who strongly supports the ban 
because he says menthols make starting smoking easier:

"There's been good research which demonstrates that young people are introduced to smoking often by menthol cigarettes as they find them more attractive, they find them less irritative and they find them more palatable, so that's a way they get introduced to regular smoking. Also the cigarette companies today have targeted women with these products so we strongly feel that they should be banned and welcome the government's decision to take this legislation forward"


STOP Global Media Competition

The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), a partner in STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products), is organising its first Global Media Competition “Expose Tobacco Industry Manipulation, Save the Next Generation”.

The competition builds upon this year’s theme for World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day: "Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use." Designs should aim to inform youth about industry manipulation and to prompt them to participate in countering the industry. The winning graphics will be shared with advocates from around the world to support their efforts to protect youth from being targeted by tobacco companies.

The deadline for submissions is 20 May 2020.

27 May 2020 - Webinar for World No Tobacco Day  
Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge

Tobacco Free Portfolios is co-hosting a High-Level webinar in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative and the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment.  

The world is currently focused on Global Health, with COVID-19 and tobacco proving to be an especially dangerous combination. During the webinar, leading financial organisations will be welcomed as new Signatories to the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge and the first adopters of the new Pledge Stamp will be showcased.

Learn more and register...

WHO FCTC Secretariat supports Parties during COVID-19 pandemic

On May 4th, the Head of the Convention Secretariat, Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo released a statement regarding the tobacco control during the COVID-19 pandemic, which, in only four months caused thousands of deaths around the world. Dr Blanco states that in order to control the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce its tragic toll and save lives, there is a critical and urgent need for global coordination and unwavering solidarity among countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), other United Nations agencies and international organisations, communities and other stakeholders.

While scientists and health professionals are working tirelessly against the clock to develop medicines and vaccines to combat COVID-19, the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) will intensify its efforts to support Parties to the Convention willing to work, to the extent possible, in creating a healthier environment for their populations by implementing the WHO FCTC.

At the same time, the Head of the Secretariat reminds all Parties that there has never been a more appropriate time to support the citizens in their efforts to quit tobacco use. There is an urgent need to protect, to the extent possible, the advances we have made in tobacco control, even in difficult times such as these. To help Parties accomplish these goals, the Convention Secretariat is ready to support those who are willing to implement or enhance tobacco control regulations and to build a healthier environment for their populations.


WHO Resources: COVID-19 and tobacco use

According to WHO, if smokers contract the COVID-19 virus, they face a greater risk of getting a severe infection as their lung health is already compromised.

To protect the public from the devastating health consequences of tobacco use, WHO urges national authorities to follow its recommendations and their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, within the context of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Join the Smoke Free Cyprus campaign

The Cyprus Addiction Treatment Authority (AAEK), as the highest coordinating body in Cyprus in the field of legal and illegal substance abuse and gambling, is joining forces with other agencies in its efforts to control and reduce smoking.

The "SMOKE FREE CYPRUS" campaign is a joint action of AAEK, the Research Laboratory of George D. Behrakis, the Hellenic Cancer Society, the Institute of Public Health and the American College of Medicine in Greece.

Support the campaign by sharing its different stickers ("SMOKE FREE CYPRUS", "SMOKE FREE SCHOOLS", "SMOKE FREE CAMPUS", "SMOKE FREE HOSPITALS"),  using them in the email signature or through a post on your organisation's website and social media pages.

Read more here...

Discover new smoking cessation campaign from Israel

Smoke Free Israel Initiative launched a campaign on smoking cessation during COVID-19: "Don't infect yourself with this pandemic!". The video aims at raising awareness about the risks of smoking traditional cigarettes, but also of vaping. 

Watch it on Facebook...
Watch it on Twitter...

Submit your proposals for the 5th European Conference on Tobacco Control!


12-14 October 2020 - Paris, France 

The abstract submission is ongoing for the fifth edition of the ENSP European Conference on Tobacco Control. Send your proposals for the conference programme, including the new topic of Tobacco / Smoking/ Vaping & COVID-19.  

The final deadline for submission of abstracts/symposia proposals is 31 July 2020.

Stay tuned via ENSP ECTC website...

Now also indexed in PubMed Central. Learn more...
New published articles
Impact of menthol delivery methods on smoker sensory perceptions
Liane Schneller, Martin Mahoney, Maansi Bansal-Travers, Susan McCann, Richard O'Connor

Discover how sustainable development, children’s rights and tobacco control are linked
Sonja von Eichborn

Patterns and related factors of bidi smoking in India
Lazarous Mbulo, Krishna M. Palipudi, Tenecia Smith, Shaoman Yin, Vineet G. Munish, Dhirendra N. Sinha, Prakash C. Gupta, Leimapokpam Swasticharan

The effect of a clinic-based behavioral intervention in promoting enrolment in a text-message tobacco cessation program at a rural primary health clinic in Delhi, India
Saurav Basu, Priyanka Yadav, Bratati Banerjee, Ankit Yadav

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