Have the EU smoking regulations been effective

Tackling smoking and nicotine addiction in and across the EU has been a hot topic for a number of years now. The original smoking regulations that were put into place many years ago that included banning smoking in public areas, have been in power for a significant amount of time. Due to this, people are now looking back to assess their effectiveness and work out exactly where we can improve and where this strategy has faltered in the process. It has been just over 10 years since the original smoking ban was issued across the EU and it’s time to see if a difference has been made.

Previous to these bans, it was commonplace to get a smoking table during dinner, inhale second-hand smoke constantly at parties, in pubs and in clubs. So what’s changed? Now we see people around the EU forced outside to smoke, passing on less and less second-hand smoke with is a definite benefit. When you book a restaurant you would no longer enquire for a smoking table as they simply don’t exist. The same can be said for public gardens, bus stops and shopping centres. This law made a fundamental change in the way people conduct themselves inside of the European Union.

Whilst the original act was extremely controversial, the health lobbies were seen fighting and arguing their case for the best part of a decade to members of parliament and ministers alike. They finally reached an agreement that allowed for the majority of their demands and the inclusion of permissible smoking in designated areas and rooms in public places. However, the penalty for smoking in an unauthorised area was significantly high on purpose to deter people from considering it. Public polls now suggest that there are only around 12% of the general public who want to reverse the change. This shows that the smoking laws have been widely accepted and appreciated by many. However, there are people who would like the laws modified, even though the don’t want them indefinitely banished.

A study into pubs in the UK showed that there is more at stake here than just deterring smokers and protecting people from second hand smoke. They found that the smoking ban encouraged people to leave old time favourite places and to seek amusement in smoking friendly areas. There have also since been knock on effects to the purchasing of alcohol “The British Beer and Pub Association cites the rise in the tax applied to drinks – and beer in particular. The beer duty escalator meant that between 2008 and 2013 the duty increased by 42% and this has come at a time when supermarkets have tried to entice shoppers in with discounts on booze.”.

With obvious benefits and drawbacks, when we look at the bigger picture it’s clear to see that Europe would be in a much worse-off position had it never implemented the ban in the first place. There will always be calls made by people to edit and modify the legislation, as someone will always be losing out from it. The EU smoking ban has been effective in encouraging the steady decline in smokers as well as people suffering due to second-hand smoke.

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