Message to The Network – ENSP President, Francisco Rodriguez Lozano

“In these difficult times caused by COVID-19 epidemic, I would like to express my gratitude for support and collaboration to all members, friends, and staff of the ENSP. I do hope you and your families are safe and healthy. We are going through an exceptional time with the hope that it will end soon, but with the certainty that it will mark a turning point in our lives, dividing it to the “before” and “after”. This situation will equally impact the tobacco control field. 

I have always believed that staying positive and looking for opportunities and improvement possibilities is the best solution for any problem, no matter how grave it may seem. And this is the case today. COVID-19 has harmed all sectors and fields and, most importantly, took or influenced so many lives around the world. There are many of us who have been personally affected or have affected families and friends. However, if we look at this pandemic from a more objective and “brighter” point of view, one aspect that has been highly considered lately is the general importance of public health and health care systems. 

Regarding the topic, which is the ENSP’s core activity, the tobacco control, I see a great recent achievement: the perception of smoking as a factor increasing the risk of contagion and worsening the prognosis of the disease in those infected, is the fact that no one argues against anymore. During the pandemic, around 10% of smokers have quit, a phenomenon that has occurred in all countries, with slight differences between them. In some countries, the protection of non-smokers has increased and respective legislative changes were announced, with certain new bans, for instance, smoking in shared spaces. 

I truly believe that the society’s receptiveness to our messages, including the politicians, has improved and will keep improving in the future. Health is an inalienable value in European societies; and after these difficult and dark times, it is something that no one will doubt of anymore, but rather fight to defend. Therefore, since we have rarely faced such an open-minded receptive society in regard to health, we must use this window of opportunity and continue sending messages related to smoking cessation. One of our great challenges has always been linked to the general population’s perception of the risk associated with the tobacco use. Now we are at an exceptional time to overcome this challenge, and I would like to encourage you to continue doing so with even greater force. Thank you very much for your hard work and tremendous support to the ENSP!” 

Francisco Rodriguez Lozano 

President of ENSP

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