Efforts to mitigate the devastation of tobacco-attributable morbidity and mortality have advanced in Europe and consist of the adoption of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), and the WHO FCTC. In addition, European Commission’s Green Deal, a milestone for cancer prevention, recognises the importance to address reinforced measures to limit tobacco use while Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan aims to reduce the cancer burden for patients, their families and health systems. In the face of a changing tobacco product landscape, where dual- and poly-tobacco use has become an increasing public health problem, strategies for addressing the tobacco epidemic must also evolve. COVID-19 pandemic also confirmed how vulnerable smokers, e-cigarette users, novel product users or those exposed to second-hand smoking can be, as preliminary data showed that they are at increased risk for severe symptomatology, hospitalisation, admission to an ICU or even death.
In past years ENSP illuminated new challenges the tobacco control community faces with the emergence of new products that undermine tobacco control and cessation efforts and created evidence fact sheets on taxation, tobacco flavours and heated tobacco and facilitated high-level discussions. ENSP also devoted its work to provide evidence on the 2020 Menthol Ban and emerging EU market trends (the entry of Juul) to ensure that stakeholders, from EU policy makers to the public are provided with “evidence-based” information. Moreover, a pervasive challenge expressed by ENSP Network Members in 2019/2020 is the continued interference and new tactics employed by the tobacco industry that has become more clandestine, even in the period of COVID-19 pandemic.
An evolution of the 4-year strategy detailed in the FPA, the 2021 ENSP annual work programme is structured into 4 general objectives that stem from a problem analysis area, to be addressed through 8 operational objectives continuing to further develop sustainable activities.