As people around the world mark World No Tobacco day on Friday, Delano looks at the latest progress being made in Luxembourg to kick the habit.
One out of five people in Luxembourg smokes, although three quarters of them want to kick the habit, according to a recent survey conducted for the national Cancer Foundation.
Smoking is considered the biggest preventable cause of cancer, with at least one in two smokers dying prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses. This is why Luxembourg has taken steps to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke and help people quit.
What’s happened in recent years?
The Luxembourg government banned smoking in closed public places, including bars and cafés from 1 January 2014, unless bars provided a separate smoking room. The ban was extended on 1 August 2017 to include areas close to children’s playgrounds and in vehicles transporting a child under 12, and e-cigarettes were included in the ban. At the same time, Luxembourg upped the minimum age for being allowed to buy tobacco products, from 16 to 18. In 2016, meanwhile, the EU ruled that health warnings with a colour photograph must cover 65% of the front and back of cigarette packaging, and banned flavoured cigarettes.
More recently, Auchan opted to ban the sale of tobacco products at its new supermarket, which opened in the Cloche d’Or this week. This is a bold step for a supermarket considering the high revenues tobacco sales generate.
Luxembourg has had a programme in place since 2008 to help people kick the habit. The “programme sevrage tabagique” provides support for smokers from a health profession during withdrawal. It also partially reimburses them for drug treatments and any necessary substitutes. Further information on these programmes can be found on www.tabac-stop.lu and maviesanstabac.lu.
Addictions aside, tobacco sales are big business in Luxembourg. In 2018, over 3 billion cigarettes were sold in the country, up 5.86% on the year before, according to finance minister Pierre Gramegna (DP). In contrast, sales in France fell 9% following a €1 increase per packet. At around €4.20 for 20 cigarettes, Luxembourg has among the cheapest prices in Europe for tobacco products. This is something the Fondation Cancer would like to change. It advocates for VAT increases on tobacco products to further bring the smoking numbers down. Gramegna said in a recent parliamentary question that the “fight against tobacco addiction will go on.” But there seems to be little movement in terms of increasing the price.
Updated 31 May at 1:30pm: A previous version of this article misstated the proportion of smokers in 2012; it was 23%. Added comment from Cancer Foundation representative.