A new report claims the Netherlands could more than halve its proportion of smokers and save €1.7bn a year with stricter anti-smoking controls.
The report for the Dutch cancer society, KWF, is the first to compare the potential effects of anti-smoking campaigns on the Netherlands, where 20% of people smoke and there are some 20,000 smoking-related deaths a year.
It claims an all-out drive including a 10% increase in cigarette tax, banning all tobacco-related promotion and mass-media campaigns against lighting up, would mean 7.7% of Dutch people would smoke in 2050. It claims this would save the country €1.7bn a year, compared to the current costs of smoking in lung cancer, heart disease and absence from work.
The AD reports that the strongest measures proposed could lead to a packet of cigarettes costing €23.
The study was carried out by Maastricht University, the national institute for public health and the Trimbos addiction research institute, and it was funded by the Dutch cancer society.
Michel Rudolphie, KWF director, said in a press release: ‘It is often said that smoking is good for society from a financial perspective because it provides the treasury with tax revenue and smokers die at a younger age so do not use their pensions. This research proves the opposite. Anti-tobacco initiatives would not only promote health but also contribute financially to society.’
Last month the EU’s highest court upheld tougher rules for cigarette packets, including more space for health warnings. Dutch MPs voted for these warnings to cover 65% of packs, giving shops a year to sell their current stock, although they did not go as far as some countries in requiring completely plain packaging.
Meanwhile, a Dutch woman with terminal lung cancer, Anne Marie van Veen, is putting together a group criminal case against cigarette producers for allegedly ‘deliberately damaging people’s health.’
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