According to the Eurostat news release on the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), one person out of every four, in the age group of 15 years and above is addicted to smoking.
Nations like Bulgaria, Greece, Austria, Slovakia, Latvia and Cyprus top in the list of countries with heavy populations of smokers, whereas countries like Sweden, UK and Finland are on the lower side, in this respect.
Some of the top-rated and most influential quit smoking and tobacco control programs in the European Union have been discussed here.
NHS Smokefree, England
The program is funded by Public Health England and helps smokers who wish to quit smoking with multiple resources and techniques.
The Campaign Resource Centre provides holistic information and resources on how to stop smoking.
The major initiatives of this program, supported by the NHS, Government of UK, include:
- The Health Harms campaign was launched in 2016, in which, the damaging effects of smoking on heart were publicized. The Government of UK asserted its role in stemming the occurrence of Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD), by advocating that all cigarettes are to be sold in unattractive standard packs displaying the statutory warning.
- A short film portraying the impact of smoking on children, adults and the entire family has been developed.
- The smoke free online campaign has a very strong presence in social media and online quit smoking tools, tips and FAQs are available on YouTube, Face book and Twitter for the convenience of quitting smoking at the earliest.
- Local stop smoking services bring smokers, professional help in their own localities. Trained advisors provide both group sessions and one-on-one support on quitting smoking. Motivational techniques like using a carbon-monoxide monitor to demonstrate the positive effects of abstinence from tobacco are practised.
- The program enjoins the need for pregnant ladies to stop smoking in order to prevent undesirable effects of nicotine consumption on delivery, maternal health and various health issues in the foetus.
- Sharing the success stories of many a die-hard smoker, who has been able to quit smoking for healthy life, creates a ripple effect on the entire smoking community, as they realise that this healthy feat is doable after all.
- The program educates prospective quitters on various methods available to quit smoking, like, stop-smoking medicine, nicotine replacement therapy, e-cigarettes and on the pros and cons of each method. It works hand in hand with the smokers and helps them identify the best or the strategic combination of the best methods.
Smoking Cessation Initiatives of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), UK
The program is funded by the British Heart Foundation as well as the Cancer Research UK, while project funding is derived from the Department of Health to Support Tobacco Control, UK.
The primary aim of the program is to improve awareness on the urgent need to curb the tobacco epidemic. This public health charity was established in 1971 by the Royal College of Physicians.
The program brings to action, innovative approaches to prevent tobacco related deaths. The ASH daily news brings to readers, a digest of latest tobacco control news for the benefit of people addicted to tobacco consumption.
The other highlights of this program include:
Providing a secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking & Health, which represents a multi-party group of professionals.
- The ASH briefing on electronic cigarettes which familiarizes the usage of these techniques, as a tool to reduce dependence on cigarettes. The safety of using e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking has been critically reviewed and the results have been produced before the entire smoking community.
- Top tips on all relevant topics like tobacco hazards, withdrawal symptoms, assistance from the Government, prescription medicine for stopping smoking and second hand smoking.
- The local toolkit, which represents a set of materials and tools, created by the ASH in conjunction with the Faculty of Public Health, Public Health Action and FRESH North East. These resources will create awareness on the cost of smoking, the health hazards of smoking and the support provided on a local basis for tobacco control.
- A set of presentations divided into convenient slides, digests from professional experts, ready reckoner of costs associated with smoking, webinars and public opinions that are available online for ready use.
ASH Scotland, ASH Wales have been making impressive success in the respective countries in curtailing the advances of tobacco addiction.
The program is effectively linked to the initiatives of Framework Convention Alliance which adopts tobacco control as a means to sustainable development.
The FCA is a global advocate for tobacco control and is headquartered in Switzerland.
Stop Tobacco Program from the Interministerial Mission to Combat Drugs and Drug Addiction (MILDT), France.
The stop tobacco program serves the countries of France, Belgium and Austria and works in collaboration with organizations like the Public Service Public Health of the food chain and Environment and Foundation against Cancer, Belgium.
The smoking cessation program offered by the institution is multi-pronged and facilitates:
- Effective abstinence from the usage of tobacco based products like cigarettes by engaging services of experts who can guide even strong addicts towards a smoke-free life.
- Communication of health hazards like cardio vascular diseases, heart, kidney and liver ailments and the impact of smoking on dental and oral health.
- One-on-one assistance on managing withdrawal symptoms related to smoking cessation, by operating dedicated help lines for the residents of Switzerland, France and Austria, wherein call-back facility with experts are arranged upon signing up for the service.
- Coordination with the Swiss Association for Prevention of Smoking and the Swiss League against Cancer, for the enactment of stringent programs on tobacco cessation.
- A practical solution towards ending nicotine dependence by drawing on data collected by means of an online questionnaire where millions of smokers are queried on their habits and feelings on tobacco cessation.
- Smoking cessation on the go by means of installing The Stop Tobacco app that is available free of cost for installation on i-phones. The app is developed by experts from the University of Geneva and includes advanced features like integration with social media accounts, assignment of sponsor for help during emergencies and a choice of awards and trophies for reaching milestones on smoking cessation.
In addition to the above, a new stop-smoking campaign has been launched by the Federal Office of Public Health with the twin goals of reinforcing the positive benefits of quitting smoking and enforcing smoke-free life as a social norm.
The Smoke Free Buddy is an interactive program that acts as a mutual and fun-based challenge between two smokers desirous of quitting smoking.
Smoking cessation program from Feel-ok.ch
Feel-ok.ch is an internet platform that represents a network of many institutions in Europe that are committed to public health. This is an initiative of the Swiss Health Foundation.
Various internet based intervention programs have been executed for the teenagers and youngsters in school and colleges, who are exposed to the disasters of leading a disorderly life.
A motivational and positive approach forms the foundation of this program that first congratulates subscribers on their well-balanced decision to quit smoking. The program acts like a handy companion that walks smokers through each and every step of their quit-smoking journey.
The program is a proven success with thousands of teenagers who find their willingness to adopt a smoke-free life, multiply when they have gone through this program.
The program has a preparatory phase that prepares the smokers both physically and mentally for the program, followed by:
- Taking the smokers through what other people think on smoking, ill-effects on smoking and the decision to quit smoking. This increases the motivation quotient and also the steadfastness and perseverance needed to accomplish the mission.
- Teaching smokers on how to resist nicotine cravings that are bound to strike, the moment one chooses to quit smoking. This is an exercise that is determined to make smokers fit for the stop-smoking phase. Precautionary steps on exposure to tobacco, passive smoking etc., during the initial days of abstinence are explained. Taking a nicotine dependence test will help fix quit smoking targets accordingly.
- Handcrafting a customized exit plan that acts as a guide and an enforcer of your decision to quit smoking. This is because no two smokers are alike in their tobacco consumption patterns and addiction. The intensity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms too differs from person to person.
- Cracking down on cessation, by stopping to smoke. This step includes facing and resisting challenges and managing desires to relapse. Going through experiences of other teen smokers and the techniques used by them for success are helpful.
Smokers are advised to prepare an emergency plan and keep it handy for reaching out to it, when struck with emergencies, in order to avoid a relapse.
The program recommends taking maximum help and support from family and friends.
Allen Carr’s Easy way quit smoking programs
With its global head quarters in London, the Allen Carr’s Easy way organization is actively engaged in freeing minds and bodies from lifetime addictions like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.
Created three decades ago, Allen Carr’s is now a globally recognized phenomenon in as many as 50 countries.
The number of de-addiction centres are on the increase, with the organization transitioning from offline to online platforms as well for helping people quit addictions and build resilience.
A notable fact about the organization is that the founder Allen Carr, who was a chain smoker, consuming up to 100 cigarettes a day was finally able to see light at the end of the tunnel, by sheer demonstration of will power.
The Easy way stop smoking programs were born out of his desire to share the results of his winnings over his die-hard addiction. This simple gesture has now blossomed into the organization being lauded as the global authority on riddance from addictions.
The smoking cessation program encompasses the following:
- As against the tough cold turkey methods of quit-smoking, the program from Allen Carr allows smokers to carry on smoking till the smoker finds himself ready to quit.
- As a further motivation, money-back guarantee is provided in case the results are not satisfactory.
- Offline one-to-one and group seminars are available. These 5-6 hours sessions will be held by experienced therapists who have practised the methods personally. Post seminar support and follow-up is provided. In addition to this live in-person video link is made available to interact with an expert therapist.
- Video on-demand quit smoking programs are available wherein the smoker can watch the program at his own comfortable timing, with unlimited 30 day access.
- Workplace programs from Allen Carr are highly successful, in creating smoke free office cubicles and putting an end to second-hand smoking at office spaces.
- Online consultation is provided to smokers who possess an ardent desire to quit smoking, but are unsure as to how and when to start. The program has emboldened many smokers and vapers to go in total cessation, with their fears of managing nicotine withdrawal symptoms, allayed by experts.
The program can be tailored to meet individual needs, requirements and nicotine consumption patterns.
Smoking cessation services, Italian National Health Service
The Government of Italy assumes a tough stand on putting an end to the use of tobacco based products.
It proposes to bring down the number of tobacco related deaths by enacting a range of cessation programs, in collaboration with the Department of Drug Addiction and the Department of Lung and Breath Care.
These programs use a blend of pharmacotherapy and other therapeutic treatments. Some highlights of these integral programs include:
- Telephone based counselling is extended mainly for resolving queries with regards to quitting smoking and removing fears and insecurities attached with the decision to quit. The Italian anti-smoking helpline offers comprehensive assistance to callers on smoking cessation methods and on other tobacco control activities. The line is centrally controlled by the Istuito Superiore di Sanita and familiarizes Italians to various quit smoking aids and resources.
- The Italian Epidemiological Observatory on Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs of Abuse of Istituto Superiore di Sanità (OssFAD, ISS)is the national authority in Italy for the enactment of various quit smoking programs. These programs include a combination of acupuncture, behavioural techniques, relaxation therapies, hypnotherapies.
- Both individual and group counselling services are provided by professionally qualified specialists from the Smoking Cessation Centers.
- The operational modalities, costs and execution of each program differ amongst themselves depending on the need and intensity. While some programs are extended free of cost, some programs require payment for logistics and so on.
- Many treatment models are in practice, with the general practitioners playing a crucial role in the successful enactment of the programs.
- National coordination between the different centres is maintained by the Government and ambitious plans are underway for establishment of more such centres.
The programs have helped thousands of Italians adopt a smoke-free life, importantly people from the marginal sector, by providing smoking cessation therapies, free of cost.
The Smoke-free Greece Program
This is an educational campaign planned and promoted in Greek schools, with the sole aim of bringing awareness on the Greek Tobacco Epidemic and putting an end to smoking within school premises.
The issue of teen smoking has become formidable within the European Union. Greece is one of the countries where this social issue is at its peak.
The program takes specific measures to cultivate awareness amongst school students, regarding the health hazards of smoking.
- Two important issues focused in this program are tobacco prevention and tobacco cessation, on a larger framework of promoting healthy lifestyle in Greece. Steps towards tobacco prevention are taken early, right from school-life so as to avoid young students becoming smokers as they near adolescence.
- Educational centres have been specially designed to execute and implement the program. Appropriate educational materials, in accordance with age, educational standards are prepared and used for instruction. Another specialty is that the teaching materials are designed to train the teachers as well.
- More than 285,000 students have benefited from the educational intervention program with active participation by as many as 1050 schools. The Hellenic Statistical Authority has slated a powerful decrease of smoking prevalence by 33.3% among Greek students, post implementation of the program.
- The team of experts handling the program are committed to reach their goals. They have visited 13 islands on the Aegean Sea, to propagate the program. In addition to this, annual conference under the name “Education For a Smoke Free World” is conducted to brainstorm ideas and lead the way forward.
The Finnish Tobacco Control Programs from National Institute of Health and Welfare
Finland has made it to records by becoming the first country to adopt absolute eradication of tobacco in the country by 2040 as a target. Anti-smoking measures are the toughest in Finland, in tune with the rigorous tobacco control policies of the Government of Finland.
Many reformatory measures have been enacted under the Tobacco Control Act of 2016. Means by which the Government cracks the whip on smoking have been enlisted.
- Making tobacco sales unprofitable by levying heavy fees on manufacture and sale of tobacco based products, including excise duty, annual control fees at point of sales and imposition of marketing restrictions.
- Inflicting ban on smoking in various places including educational institutions, workplaces, restaurants, bars, backyards and balconies of residential complexes.
- Enacting tough legislations restricting sale of nicotine products with the exception of smoking cessation aids alone.
- Enforcing anti-tobacco drive through positive measures such as provision of health care services during the withdrawal phase, conduction of tobacco control programs in schools, colleges and offices and promotion on mass media.
- Taking action on both national and regional basis for control of tobacco consumption.
- Publishing a list of recommended methods for quitting smoking. A dedicated team is in charge of prevention of tobacco-related harm. The team is an integral part of the Smoking, Gambling and Addiction Unit.
- Top priority is accorded to research and development in order to evolve innovative methods of tobacco control, including various studies like The Regional Health and Well-Being Study, the School Health Promotion Study, to mention a few.
The Bloomberg WHO Initiative, Turkey
This program has been designed specifically to execute and administer smoke-free policies and cessation programs of the Turkish Government and to leverage the nation’s capacity for tobacco resistance.
Through tight surveillance and monitor as Turkey, it is difficult to propagate awareness.
Since 2005, Turkey has been an integral part of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The Bloomberg Initiative is a right step in the futuristic direction of creating a smoke-free Turkish community.
- By making it tough to lure smokers using mass media, the program proposes to use multi-media productively instead. Restrictions on cigarette advertisements and insistence on health warnings create a downward trend on sale of tobacco.
- As part of monitoring operations, the Global Adult Tobacco Surveys (GATS) were conducted with support from the United States Centres for Disease Control (US CDC), the WHO and the Turkish Statistical Institute and the Ministry of Health.
- Technical assistance has been provided from the WHO directly for enactment of National Tobacco Control Program and the Action Plan for the same between 2015-2018.
- A National Quit Line is in place, for effective use by smokers during the quit smoking phase.
- The Tobacco Pack Surveillance System has been a watchdog for cigarette packs labelling compliance which plays a crucial role in making them look less appealing for smokers.
Flawless execution of quit smoking programs by the Turkish Government have started yielding results with the numbers of smoking-related deaths and those of smokers on the decrease.
The impact of the above mentioned programs have brought about a strong anti-tobacco wave in the European countries, making it easy for smokers to go ahead with their decision to stop smoking. .
Identified as one of the largest causes of preventable deaths in the European Union, tobacco usage has been targeted by the Government of different nations.
A number of Government, Non-Government and Private organizations conduct quit smoking programs, which have proved highly successful in emancipating smokers from their addiction.