Special edition on Tobacco and Cancer
3 February 2021

4 February -  World Cancer Day

Tobacco-related cancer awareness

On 4 February 2020, the European Commission started its outreach on Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. One year later, the Commission aims to implement concrete actions related to the plan in order to create a powerful impact and achieve its ambitious objectives related to cancer cure and prevention in Europe.


Tobacco consumption continues to be the leading preventable cause of cancer, with 27% of all cancers attributed to tobacco use. By eliminating tobacco use, 90% of lung cancers may be avoided. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan aims to create a ‘Tobacco Free Generation’ where less than 5% of the population uses tobacco by 2040.


ENSP has had this same shared goal as the core of its mission for years, striving to create the Network, an ecosystem with coordinated efforts for tobacco control in Europe. Our vision for the future is to eliminate tobacco use and reduce health inequalities that tobacco causes.

The cancer challenge has become a really urgent and grave issue on the European agenda, with tobacco posing a great threat to citizens' health and well-being. Emphasising the link between tobacco and cancer, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, ENSP proposes a new ribbon, green and yellow, to raise awareness on all types of cancer caused by tobacco and as a sign of high consideration for all dedicated efforts of tobacco control and wider public health stakeholders, all with the ultimate goal of achieving a healthy tobacco-free generation.

Europe's Beating Cancer Plan

Today, on the 3rd of February 2021, the European Commission officially released the communication to the European Parliament and The Council - Europe's Beating Cancer Plan.The plan, being itself the main priority of the current Commission, will serve as a cornerstone of the European Health Union, addressing cancer from prevention to treatment and care angles, thus consequently affecting all EU policy arias. The total allocated budget reaches 4 billion and will be dedicated to funding of relevant actions within the EU4Health programme, Horizon Europe, the Digital Europe programme and others.
The Cancer Plan is built around four key action areas with 10 flagship initiatives and multiple supporting actions:
  • Prevention
  • Early Detection
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Improve quality of life

During the Press Conference where the plan was presented, several particular inititiatives such as Knowledge Centre on Cancer,  European Cancer Imaging Initiative as well as  'Helping Children with Cancer Initiative' and Cancer Inequalities Registry were highlighted as important new actions to be implemented under the plan.


With regards to tobacco control, the Commission clearly states its priority to protect the young generation from harmful effects of tobacco. 


According to the document, "tobacco taxation is one of the most effective instruments to fight tobacco consumption, particularly in deterring young people from taking up smoking" and on this note, the Commission intends to implement more actions related to the Tobacco Products Directive and Tobacco Taxation Directive.
Moreover, the document addresses a difficult and acute topic of novel products with a clear intention to extend the measures through this area, such as further protection of the smoke-free public spaces.
Finally, the European Commission commits to the reinforcement of all tobacco-related measures in order to allow complete implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivers a message on Europe's Beating Cancer Plan

ENSP Brochure 2021: Ending tobacco epidemic

 is an essential step for beating cancer 

Every year, 3.5 million people in the EU are diagnosed with cancer, and 1.3 million die from it. Over 40% of cancer cases are preventable. Without reversing current trends, it could become the leading cause of death in the EU. In 2020, the Commission released its Europe’s beating cancer plan aiming at reducing the cancer burden for patients, their families and health systems. Tobacco is a great risk factor for cancer, often still unknown and underestimated. Thus, every month in 2021, ENSP dedicates a section of "The Network" to a certain type of cancer and its link to tobacco. 

February - Gallbladder & Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month

While the link between tobacco use and risk of biliary tract cancers is still being investigated, there is evidence that ever, former, and current smoking are associated with increased extrahepatic bile duct, intrahepatic bile duct and ampulla of Vater cancers. 


Recent research also demonstrates that gallbladder cancer should be considered as a new smoking-related cancer. The risk of gallbladder cancer increases linearly with smoking intensity and duration, the RR being 1.60 (95% CI: 1.21-2.11) for 30 cigarettes/day and 1.25 (95% CI: 1.01-1.56) for 30 years of smoking.


In many educational and preventive health sources smoking is not yet mentioned as a clear risk factor for various biliary tract cancers but based on the available evidence general public, patients and health care community have to be informed about these recent findings.



15 February - Childhood Cancer Day

Evidence suggest that exposure to smoking by family members during pregnancy or exposure to waterpipe and cigarette smoking during their neonatal period is a risk factor for developing cancer. Evidence support a possible association between maternal smoking during pregnancy with childhood cancers overall, paediatric neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, certain types of childhood brain tumours and nervous system cancers. Paternal smoking was related to a significantly elevated risk of childhood lymphoblastic leukemia during pregnancy. 

New ENSP Video: Tobacco Control in Romania

This video showcases the evolution of tobacco control in Romania through a series of interviews with the champions in the field, talking about the importance of the denormalisation of tobacco consumption and tobacco products overall among Romanians.

Now also indexed in PubMed Central. Learn more...

The latest publications in the TPC Journal:
Chung-mei M. Cheung, Constantine I. Vardavas, Filippos T. Filippidis
Arusyak Harutyunyan, Varduhi Hayrumyan, Zhanna Sargsyan, Arevik Torosyan, Ana Dekanosidze, Michelle Kegler, Lela Sturua, Carla J. Berg
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