WHO to Berlin: fight smoking harder!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Germany has some catching up to do in the fight against smoking. The WHO praises the new measures against tobacco advertising, but they could go further

Smoking prohibited: According to the WHO, the federal government has still not put the tobacco industry in its place enough

© Getty Images / EyeEm / Nipitphon Na Chiangmai

In Germany, as of January 1, 2021, tobacco products may no longer be advertised in cinemas if a film is approved for under 18s. From 2022, advertising for conventional tobacco products on billboards will be banned. From 2023 onwards, tobacco heaters and from 2024 on e-cigarettes can no longer be advertised there.

"It is regrettable that the ban on advertising in the cinema only applies to films that are approved for under 18-year-olds," said the WHO Director for Health Promotion, Rüdiger Krech. Other countries have completely banned advertising of tobacco products in cinemas. "We would also have liked the ban on advertising on billboards to come into force earlier." In addition, there is no complete ban on advertising around sales points such as kiosks or petrol stations.

According to the 2019 Federal Drug Report, around 27 percent of men and 21 percent of women smoke in Germany. It is estimated that 121,000 people die each year as a result of tobacco use.

Tobacco machines and sponsorship deals not yet banned by the tobacco industry

"Germany has so far been at the bottom of the list in Europe when it comes to tobacco restrictions," said Krech. Now it's in midfield. According to a WHO analysis, Germany is among just a dozen of the 50 or more countries in the WHO European Region that has not completely banned the distribution of free tobacco products.

Germany has not yet completely banned sponsorship agreements by the tobacco industry with 16 other countries.Germany is also among the 22 countries that have not yet abolished tobacco vending machines.

The coronavirus pandemic has opened up a great opportunity in the fight against tobacco, said Krech: Based on the latest surveys, WHO analyzes show that significantly more tobacco users are concerned about their health and want to quit smoking more seriously. Authorities would have to support them with offers to help them quit. "You can still do a lot in Germany," said Krech.