WHO praises the Netherlands for its tobacco control policies
The Netherlands is one of the few countries that has implemented nearly all measures to help reduce demand for tobacco, a fact recognized as “a significant milestone” by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a new report. The WHO congratulated the Netherlands, along with Mauritius, for joining the select group of countries at the forefront of tobacco control. Since 2016, smoking rates have consistently decreased in the Netherlands.
Successive Cabinets in the Netherlands have already implemented many measures to discourage smoking. These range from imposing smoking bans in bars and restaurants, forbidding smoking on train platforms and in public buildings, to imposing boring packaging for cigarettes. Supermarkets were ordered last year to stop publicly displaying all tobacco products. From 2024, grocery stores will not be allowed to sell any smoking products. The Dutch government plans to continue cutting the number of stores allowed to sell cigarettes and the number of places where smoking is allowed.
Countries with comparably strict smoking policies include Brazil and Turkey, WHO noted in its report. An additional eight countries are likely to join this group soon. The percentage of smokers worldwide has fallen from 22.8 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2021. In the Netherlands, according to the Trimbos Institute, the rate decreased from 25.7 percent in 2014 to 18.9 percent in the past year.
The WHO's report evaluated the smoking policies of countries across the world. The organization maintained its critical stance on the tobacco industry, which it accused of attempting to "undermine WHO-proposed measures in all sorts of ways". The WHO emphasized that smoking-related diseases, including lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and various cancers, result in eight million deaths annually. Consequently, smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can significantly impact healthcare costs.
The WHO also noted that the marketing of e-cigarettes and vapes is primarily targeted at children and young adults. However, only a few countries have rules to protect these groups of people. For instance, only four countries have banned the enticing flavors of vapes. In the Netherlands, the introduction of new flavors other than tobacco is prohibited, though the existing stock can be sold until January 1, 2024.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times