April 16, 2011 - Tobacco control experts are urging the Dutch government to launch information campaigns funded by a doubling of the price of secondhandsmokecigarettes, after a new study showed an “alarming” ignorance of the dangers of passive smoking.
The study, by researchers at Maastricht University for the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project, coincides with this week’s European conference on tobacco and health in Amsterdam ;, aimed at putting tobacco control higher on the political and social agenda. THe latest Tobacco Control Scale, a report on measures to combat smoking by the Association of European Cancer Leagues, placed the Netherlands joint 13th out of 30 countries, behind Turkey and Italy<br><br><a href=">The Tobacco Control Scale 2010 in Europe Luk Joossens Martin Raw) Its position may reflect the recent decision to allow smoking once more in small cafes Netherlands - smoking ban lifted in small cafes with no staff.. of passive smoking and the low average price of a packet of cigarettes in the Netherland, estimated at €5.05 (£4.45; $7.18), less than half the €11.24 (16.2204 USD) in Norway.
The Maastricht University study found that just 61% of Dutch smokers agree that cigarette smoke is dangerous to non-smokers. In France the percentage is 96% and in China it is 93%. It also showed that only 70% of Dutch smokers recognise a direct link between passive smoking and lung cancer in non-smokers (94% in France). Only 9% of Dutch smokers thought about the harm to others (42% in the United Kingdom).
Geoffrey Fong, of the International Tobacco Control project, said that understanding harm was the key to tobacco control. “As a signatory to the WHO framework convention on tobacco control the Netherlands has a duty to inform its people about the dangers of smoking,” he said.
Marc Willemsen, who led the Dutch study, described the findings as “alarming,” particularly as the Dutch health ministry had recently decided to discontinue funding for media campaigns to educate smokers.
“We knew that there was a large degree of toleration—that is part of our culture—but we had no idea that the basic level of knowledge was so low,” said Professor Willemsen, who blamed the absence of campaigns on the health dangers of smoking. He believes that the government is afraid of appearing to be too “nannying.”
He said, “The health minister has told parliament that she does not want to finance campaigns in the areas of lifestyle behaviour and has specially mentioned smoking as an example.”
Lies van Gennip, chief executive of Stivoro, the Dutch expert centre on tobacco control, said that it was of utmost importance to raise knowledge. “It is shocking that people in Holland know less about the damage from passive smoking than in China,” she said. She called for “proven effective measures,” such as graphic warnings on cigarette packets and increasing the cost of a packet of cigarettes, which could be gradually doubled to €10 to match the price in other countries. This call has sparked a campaign against the organisation in the social media.
The health minister, Edith Schippers, wrote to MPs on 31 March accepting that public knowledge about the harms of passive smoking seemed to be low.
Reference: Dutch smokers are “alarmingly” ignorant of harms of passive smoking by Tony Sheldon
(environmntal tobacco smoke, ets, shs, passive smoking, involuntary smoking sidstram smoking)
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