How to eradicate cigarettes for good
One million signatures from European citizens from seven different countries: that’s what it will take for the European Commission to consider banning the sale of tobacco to people born after 2010.
On August 24, the Commission registered a European citizens’ initiative entitled “Call for a tobacco-free environment and European first generation without tobacco by 2030′, which was organized mainly by our small team in Nofumadores, a Spanish NGO. We have six months from that date to collect enough signatures for the Commission to react.
It’s a daunting task for us highly idealistic but ultimately cash-strapped anti-tobacco activists. Yet, drawing the attention of our politicians to the evils of tobacco and nicotine products and the irremediability of the tobacco industry is the moral thing to do. And in doing so, we affirm that EU sovereignty rests on the shoulders of the citizens of the bloc and not on the lobbying ability of those transnational corporations with slavery in their DNA.
Just to be clear, if cigarettes were invented today, they would never hit the market. Cigarettes cause so much cancer and disease that if no one were allowed to smoke, the number of people diagnosed with lung cancer in Spain would drop by 85%, according President of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology. As European citizens, we have every right to wonder why such a deadly product should remain legal. However, our objectives are reasonable: we want to start by saving the next generation from this scourge.
As European citizens, we have every right to wonder why such a deadly product should remain legal.
By ending the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to citizens born after 2010, we aim to create Europe’s first tobacco-free generation. Over time, this measure will completely end tobacco sales.
However, such action must be coupled with enforcement action and costly fines for those who sell tobacco to minors as well as a massive expansion of smoke- and vapor-free outdoor spaces, especially in places frequented by minors such as parks, swimming pools, sports centers. and events.
We cannot stress enough the importance of banning cigarettes in bars, restaurants and clubs of all kinds, not only indoors but also outdoors. We are also tackling these issues by calling for a ban on all forms of advertising or promotion of smoking or vaping, whether old or new.
It is essential that European citizens understand the true nature of tobacco companies: they are, in many cases, the direct heirs of companies based on slave labour. Tobacco was one of the most intensive cash crops used to fuel colonial trade. The atrocity of the Atlantic slave trade and the way tobacco was produced in Virginia around the Chesapeake Bay are rooted in a general disregard for the dignity of human life.
Slavery is inherent in the industry, a point we want to clarify because the tobacco companies have co-opted and perverted the meaning of freedom. They have no right to use that word and yes, abolition is the right word to end the trade of such a shameful, addictive and deadly product.
In short, we call on the EU to liberate the next generation. Tobacco companies need teenagers to perpetuate the cycle of addiction, disease and death. The EU must accompany this measure with sweeping restrictions on where current smokers are allowed to light a cigarette, vape or use any heated tobacco device. There is also a huge need to reduce the number of places where tobacco can be sold.
Freedom has nothing to do with tobacco since it is an addictive product, and when someone is addicted to something, freedom of choice does not exist. True freedom begins by keeping never-smoked miners from falling into the hands of a manipulative industry bent on getting new recruits addicted to their deadly product. The best way to achieve this goal is to make tobacco inaccessible to young people, because those who have never tried it will never lack or need it.
Moreover, cigarettes and e-cigarettes are not sustainable in a global warming world. Tobacco cultivation is very water-intensive, contributes to the loss of biodiversity and causes almost five percent of deforestation in low- and middle-income countries, due to the clearing of land to grow crops and provide wood for curing tobacco. In terms of carbon emissions generated, the tobacco imprint is equal to that of entire countries. These staggering statistics are the impact of a handful of corporations that not only created the corporate denial playbook, but also, in the case of climate change, provided extensive funding and institutional support to climate change deniers. climate, causing further damage.
True freedom begins with keeping never-smoked miners from falling into the hands of a manipulative industry bent on getting new recruits addicted to their deadly product.
In addition, cigarette butts are a frequently thrown away object – an estimate four and a half tons of cigarette butts are thrown away every year – and often end up on beaches and in waterways. Tobacco filters, made of cellulose acetate, are the number one ocean plastic, more numerous than plastic bottles and packaging. These filters eventually dissipate into microplastics and enter the food chain. The EU has taken steps to limit plastic straws, but cigarette butts have once again flowed under the radar.
We proposed to create a network of tobacco-free and cigarette-butt-free beaches and shores in Europe. Nofumadores has already taken up the challenge in Spain, bringing together more than 356,000 signatories enact a national law prohibiting tobacco products from beaches. A more recent proposal to free national parks from the dangers and pollution of smoking and cigarette butts has gained momentum during Spain’s most damaging fire season in decades (some of the fires were caused by smokers) – the petition has already 78,000 signatories.
We know that creating Europe’s first generation of tobacco-free citizens is a daunting task, which will require well over a million signatures. But we will work tirelessly because we see ourselves as extending human freedoms. We stand on the shoulders of the English giants who abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in 1833. However, Europe should never bail out these companies like England did with slave owners .
It is the extreme cruelty of this product, the continued deception and corruption of these companies, and the immense power and wealth of these descendants of slave traders that we are trying to put an end to. The EU is a human rights paradise and a project where true sovereignty belongs to the citizens and not in the hands of such harmful and predatory people.
As Curtis H Judge, then president of the Lorillard Tobacco Company, said in a 1984 deposition: “No one should sell a product that is a proven cause of lung cancer. For once, we can agree on something.