EU’s Joint Action on Tobacco Control initiative opens at event in Athens

The Greek president, European deputies, the medical community and Greek officials attended the formal opening at Zappeio Hall in Athens on Wednesday of the Joint Action on Tobacco Control (JATC), an initiative that will support European Union efforts to reduce premature mortality from smoking and tobacco consumption.

In comments to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), professor Panagiotis Behrakis, a professor at Athens and Harvard Universities who is designated coordinator for Greece along with the Hellenic Cancer Society, expressed his optimism that smoking will be reduced in Greece. The country has an extremely low rate of smokers (27.3%), which shows a change in the Greek mentality, he said, but what is most promising is the 33% reduction of smoking in the age bracket of 16 to 24.

“In the last few years, the efforts to fight smoking are beginning to bear fruit,” Hellenic Cancer Society president Evangelos Filopoulos told ANA, who insisted that the “epidemic of steam smoking” must also be dealt with, as smoking substitutes “are not as innocent as they seem.”

The TPD lays down rules governing the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products. The TPD stipulates that Member States shall require manufacturers and importers of tobacco products to submit to their competent authorities information, via a common entry gate (EU-CEG) – an IT tool designed to ensure uniform application of the reporting and notification obligations, harmonise the submission of data, facilitate comparison and reduce administrative burden.

Smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption are considered the single most important cause of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. The three-year JATC program will support the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and the WHO Framework Convention through the mining of EU-CEG data, laboratory collaborations and efforts to evaluate priority additives.