Progress on Tobacco Endgame Around the World

United States

– As of January 1, 2021, Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach, CA implemented their bans on the sale of tobacco products. Read ASH’s statement here.

– Several other cities are considering that policy avenue, although COVID-19 has caused some delays.

The State of California aims to end the tobacco epidemic by 2035. The California Tobacco Control Program unveiled its endgame plans to the public health community in January 2021 and received a lot of enthusiasm. Learn more about ASH’s work in California here.

– Their Vision – By 2035, transform California by eradicating the commercial tobacco industry’s influence and reducing the harm caused by tobacco products to the health, environment, and economic well-being of California’s diverse populations.

– In 2019, Brookline, Massachusetts sought to implement a Tobacco-Free Generation law that bans the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2000. This policy effectively raises the age to purchase tobacco products by one year every year, allowing current people who smoke to continue while preventing future generations from starting. On July 19, 2021 Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey approved the ordinance. Read ASH’s statement here. There is currently a legal challenge against the law, with experienced tobacco control lawyers helping with the defense.

Europe

– On February 3, 2021, the European Commission unveiled its “Beating Cancer Plan.” One of the Plan’s key actions is to reduce smoking prevalence to below 5% by 2040. The EC’s plan recognizes that it will be impossible to defeat cancer without eliminating tobacco.

– On February 4, 2021, France followed suit, when President Emmanuel Macron marked World Cancer Day by announcing its ten-year plan to reduce deaths from cancer by 50 percent. In his speech, Mr. Macron called for a “tobacco free generation,” although it is unclear if this refers to a specific policy or is aspirational.

– On February 12, 2021, a coalition of Spanish health and advocacy groups published its “Endgame Declaration of Tobacco in Spain 2030,” a detailed plan to make “tobacco consumption disappear from Spanish society” within ten years. The centerpiece of the plan is the enactment of the “Tobacco Free Generation” concept, which would bar sales to anyone born after January 1, 2007. Some health officials from the ruling party seem to be on board.

Bhutan
In 2007, the Himalayan nation of Bhutan was the first jurisdiction in modern times to ban the commercial sale of tobacco. Unfortunately, the Act was rescinded in 2020 due to COVID; it’s unclear if it will be reinstated once the pandemic subsides.

Philippines
In 2016, Balanga City, Philippines passed a Tobacco-Free Generation law that bans the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2000, effectively raising the age to purchase tobacco by one year every year. The tobacco industry sued, and won an injunction. Litigation is ongoing, but for now the tobacco free generation – which is turning 21 this year – is still fair game for tobacco marketing.

ASPIRE Countries: New Zealand, Finland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Sweden, Canada
Over the past decade, eight governments – the so-called ASPIRE countries – put plans in place to drive prevalence to very low numbers by a certain date.

New Zealand’s deadline comes first – they hope to push prevalence down below 5% by 2025.

Finland aims to get below 2% by 2040.

 

All these efforts require sustained effort to build and maintain political will and develop detailed plans, as California has done. But ending the commercialization of tobacco is no longer a fringe topic in public health.