Ireland leads Europe for anti-tobacco policies while Luxembourg comes last

The Tobacco Control Scale: a new scale to measure country activity Tobacco Control 2006; 15: 247-53

Ireland leads Europe for its active stance on tobacco control, while Luxembourg comes bottom of the league of 30 countries, reveals research in the journal Tobacco Control.

A newly devised points scale was applied to rank 30 European countries' efforts to curb smoking and improve the health of their populations.

The Tobacco Control Scale, which was devised with the help of an international panel of experts in the field, awards points for policies, such as tax increases on tobacco products, comprehensive advertising bans, and bans on smoking in public places.

Ireland came top, scoring 74 points out of a maximum of 100, earning 21 points alone for its ban on smoking in public places.

It might have been awarded a higher score, had it not been for the fact that it failed to increase tobacco taxes in 2005, for the first time in 10 years. Only three other countries - the UK, Norway, and Iceland - clocked up 70 points or more. Malta came fifth, with 62 points. Only 13 countries scored above 50 points; 11 of them were from the European Union.

Luxembourg managed only 26 points, earning it last place on the league table, just above Romania on 27 points, Latvia on 29, and Austria on 31.

While the UK managed only 1 point for its failure to impose a total ban across all four countries on smoking in public places, it scored the highest points on availability of treatment to help smokers give up and its public health information campaigns.

A ban on smoking in public places will come into force in 2007 in England and Northern Ireland. A ban has already taken effect in Scotland.

Germany scored 36 points, putting it in 21st place, while Switzerland scored 35, putting it in 23rd place.

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