Anti-smoking policy 'fails' to help young smokers: Health experts
Health experts and foundations are calling on the Cabinet to strengthen its anti-smoking policy as smoking becomes increasingly popular among young people. Some have called the "smoke-free generation" plan a failure, according to AD.
Almost four years into the government's extensive plan to eliminate smoking among young people and decrease adult smokers to 5 percent, experts believe it is time for urgent action. Nearly a third of young adults smoke and the number of young people who have smoked has actually increased since 2020.
Under the current plan, cigarettes are getting more expensive, tobacco will be removed from supermarkets by 2024 and e-cigarettes will count under the smoking ban, among other measures. However, health foundations say an even more drastic solution is needed: a yearly 10 percent price increase on cigarettes, according to AD.
“Structural price increases for cigarettes have been proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking," said Wanda de Kanter, a pulmonologist and anti-smoking activist. She believes that the coronavirus pandemic may have contributed to the rise in young smokers, calling it "unbelievable."
De Kanter also pointed out that tobacco industry lobbying had a hand in removing the structural price increase for cigarettes. Hartstichting, KWF and Longfonds told AD that measures such as a one euro excise tax increase and a ban on e-cigarette flavors were also postponed. They argue that excise duties should go up a minimum of 10 percent per year.
A ban on the tobacco lobby is also essential for progress, De Kanter said. “This is the only way to keep the tobacco industry under control. Manufacturers are always trying to introduce something new, such as a vapor or vaping.”
State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen (Public Health) will send a letter to the Tweede Kamer on the topic in the near future, a spokesperson told the AD. This letter was supposed to be sent before summer and was delayed. However, Van Ooijen has suggested raising the price on a pack of cigarettes by 30 to 47 euros by 2040, according to AD.
Health experts and foundations eagerly await Van Ooijen's letter. According to the health foundations, "We need politics to speed up and put an end to the avoidable disease and death caused by smoking."