Human Rights in tobacco control: An instrument for legislation, jurisprudence and awareness campaigns
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Kom op tegen Kanker, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A89
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Human Rights and tobacco control go hand in hand. Human Rights can be invoked, in the parliament, in a court of law or even when it comes to awareness campaigns.
‘Kom op tegen Kanker’ is a Flemish NGO fighting cancer and tobacco. Throughout the years, we have been advocating for a better cancer policy and better anti-tobacco regulation. We won a case before the constitutional court against the Belgian government when it wanted to introduce a smoking ban in the hospitality industry but still allowed smoking in smaller pubs. In this case, Human Rights were of great importance.
Together with other major stakeholders, we have successfully lobbied for a better legal framework in the field of tobacco control. The parliament refers to human and children’s rights when developing new laws and has taken initiatives to reinforce tobacco control by banning smoking in cars, banning the sale of tobacco to minors, introducing a total advertising ban and introducing plain packaging.
We also try to create awareness for the right to health, by means of awareness campaigns, focusing on creating smoke-free indoor as well as outdoor environments. We also encourage smokers to smoke outside, out of the sight of children. Over a period of 10 years, we were partly responsible for the drop of more than 68% in the number of children exposed to smoke every day at home. Our awareness campaigns also help in creating political support for our tobacco control proposals. When it comes to the balance between the right to smoke and the right to health, ‘Kom op tegen Kanker’ is convinced that this balance can be shifted with the right approach. Civil society and tobacco control organisations have an important role in this.
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