EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, delivers a speech at the ENSP Webinar


On 24th February, at 16:00 CET, ENSP hosted a webinar with key stakeholders in the field to discuss the framework set by Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, where the European public health community is joining forces towards a common cause: smoking cessation.

Watch again the speech delivered by the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Ms. Stella Kyriakides.

Read again the speech

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to join you today to discuss an important part of our joint action against cancer in Europe and beyond.  

No matter who we are, cancer will affect us all at one time in our lives – as a cancer patient, a cancer survivor like me, a friend, or a relative.

We will all very likely experience the same sense of sadness and pain that cancer provokes.

But we can turn the tide and reduce the impact caused by cancer. We can do so individually, and especially working together.

Through team work with our Member States, EU institutions, patient organisations and health advocates like you has produced a plan for us to beat cancer. 

A plan for the 21st century. A plan for all Europe’s citizens.

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is accompanying cancer patients and citizen during the whole cancer journey, from prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment to quality of life of cancer patients and survivors.

Prevention – and tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable cancer – are our focus today.

Evidence shows that around 40% cancer cases in the EU can be prevented. However, only 3% of health budgets goes on health promotion and disease prevention.

There is much more we can do on prevention.

If we succeed, we will be able to ease the pressure on our healthcare and social protection systems.

We will keep our economies healthy and productive with a healthy workforce.

And we will be boosting Member States’ efforts to meet global targets on non-communicable diseases.

But most importantly, we will save lives.

In order to succeed, we must focus on vaccination, environmental and behavioural risk factors, including tobacco use.

Over a quarter of all cancers are attributed to tobacco use. With no tobacco use, nine out ten cases of lung cancer could be avoided.

Our understanding of how tobacco smoke damages our health has never been greater. Yet smoking rates in the EU remain high, at around 25%. And now, new products like electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco products and nicotine pouches are entering the market.

In response, with Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan we are proposing bold and ambitious actions on prevention through the reduction of the use of tobacco.

We have set a very clear objective – to create a smoke-free generation in Europe, where less than 5% of people use tobacco by 2040.

To meet this target, we must set our sights still higher.

This means enforcing EU tobacco legislation more strictly and helping it keep pace with new developments and, so that it up to date and can address the endless flow of new products entering the market. This is particularly important to protect younger people.

We will start by reviewing the Tobacco Products Directive to make product regulation stricter, the Tobacco Taxation Directive to increase tobacco taxes and the rules on cross-border tobacco purchases.

We will also update the Council Recommendation on Smoke-Free Environments to emerging products, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products and create more smoke-free environments.

We want to make smoking as unattractive as possible.

To turn our ambitions into results, your active support over the coming months and years will be crucial.

Just as it has been crucial to our progress in implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – a convention that the EU and its Member States were instrumental in shaping.

Implementation has not been without its challenges.

But with more than 7 million people worldwide still dying from tobacco-related diseases every year, these are challenges that are worth facing.

So we are now looking to make the 9th Conference of the Parties in November a success.

Every step forward is welcome, and relies on fruitful cooperation.

The same applies to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

I know that your network and your members are ready and able to play your part in making the plan a success.

So I look forward to working with you to take it to the next phase, with a smoke-free generation firmly in our sights.

With that noble aim in mind, I wish your webinar every success.”

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