EU anti-smoking roadshow hoping to reach the young
An anti-smoking roadshow that is touring the European Union is expected to arrive in Malta today and should be set up by this evening in Valletta.
The inflatable two-storey structure, which will be here until Sunday, marks the start of a four-year European campaign focusing on three priorities - smoking prevention, giving up and the dangers of passive smoking. The campaign is mainly targeted at young people between 15 and 18 years of age.
The organisers are hoping to make initial contact with citizens and distribute information and promotional objects across the EU's 25 member states. The €72 million anti-smoking initiative will continue with a television and cinema advertising campaign over the summer.
A spokesman for the local representatives said the roadshow will be open to the public from 9 a.m. tomorrow, and members of the Health Department will be on hand to provide information. On the eve of the local debut of the campaign, the organisers warned about the dangers of passive smoking which, they said, was becoming a major concern for the European authorities. "It poses a serious risk to health and the environment," they said.
In a statement the organisers said that only 15 per cent of smoke from a cigarette was inhaled by the smoker while the remainder was dispersed into the atmosphere and could be breathed by others.
"Even if smokers are by far the primary victims of tobacco, recent scientific data increasingly proves the danger of passive smoking," they said.
A smoky environment can cause a multitude of effects, even on non-smokers, including coughing, headaches, irritated eyes, nausea and respiratory problems. In fact, a study published in the renowned British Medical Journal last year pointed to a 15 per cent higher risk of mortality in adults who live with a smoker, even if they never smoked themselves. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical substances, 50 of which are known to be carcinogenic and more than 100 toxic. Some of these substances are more concentrated in second-hand smoke than in mainstream smoke.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer said people who lived with smokers ran a 25 per cent increased risk of suffering from coronary heart disease.
Moreover, tobacco smoke affects children, who might have an increased risk of respiratory infections, recurring ear infections, asthma attacks, delayed intra-uterine development, low birth weight and cot death.