Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) - so-called “passive smoking” - remains a major source of excess morbidity and mortality in Europe and places a significant burden on society. A comprehensive and coordinated effort towards a “smoke-free Europe” should be one of the major priorities in public health and is considered as such by the European Commission (EC), which committed itself in its Environmental and Health Action Plan (2004–2005) to “develop work on improving indoor air quality in particular by encouraging the restriction of smoking in all workplaces by exploring both legal mechanisms and health promotion initiatives at both European and member state level”. There have been significant steps in the EU to promote smoke-free environments, and in this issue of Breathe, the experience of the legislation against smoking in public places in Ireland provides information on how this can be achieved and the impacts of such a ban. A further article in this issue on tobacco control in central and eastern Europe indicates the need for further efforts in this area.
- ©ERS 2007
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