Unfiltered: Conflicts over Tobacco Policy and Public Health

By Eric A. Feldman; Ronald Bayer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
9
Tobacco-Control Policy
in the European Union

Anna Gilmore and Martin McKee

In 1993 Gerard Wirz of Philip Morris fearfully posed the question: “Are European smokers destined to suffer the same intolerant experience as their American Brethren? Does the [European Community] cigarette market risk as precipitous a drop as the one experienced in the [United States]?”1 Those traveling from North America to Europe will testify that Philip Morris’s fears have yet to be realized: “The bottom line is Europe is awash in a sea of cigarette smoke … [Y]ou’d better get used to sharing your breathing space with tobacco-scented gases and particulates.”2

Although progress in tobacco control throughout most of Europe has been less marked than in North America or Australia, some positive steps have been taken, particularly in the last twenty years. As highlighted in other chapters, the degree of tobacco control varies widely between countries in Europe, but since the advent of European legislation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there are now common features. That legislation made a positive contribution to tobacco control in Europe, especially by providing an opportunity to address tobacco-control issues in countries whose national governments had not taken action.

The European Union (EU) is a grouping of European countries. The events in this chapter concern the period prior to 2004, when the EU consisted of fifteen countries and had a population just over 377 million; in May 2004 it will expand to include an additional ten countries. The EU, as the EC became after the Maastricht Treaty on European Union in 1992, is quite different from the national governments explored in other chapters. Given that the fifteen member states differ linguistically, culturally,

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