2.7m a year killed in Europe by smoking, alcohol, UPFs & fossil fuels

Discover how tobacco, alcohol, ultra processed foods and fossil fuels contribute to nearly a quarter of all deaths in Europe. New report by WHO.

person smoking
Share this article

New report by The World Health Organization – The cost of unregulated products

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a significant report highlighting the grave impact that tobacco, alcohol, ultra-processed foods (UPFs), and fossil fuels have on public health in Europe.

It estimates that these factors contribute to 2.7 million deaths annually, representing roughly 24.5% of all mortalities in the region. This alarming statistic has prompted a call for governments to enact stricter controls on these health-harmful industries.

Policy changes and industry responses

The WHO report urgently calls for sweeping regulatory changes, including implementing marketing restrictions, curbing the ability of individual companies or trade sectors to control and manipulate markets and ensuring that trade agreements and economic policies prioritise public health over corporate profits.

Predictably, industry representatives and lobbyists have reacted defensively. FoodDrinkEurope which represents the interests of food and drink companies, national food and drink federations, and specific sectoral associations based in Europe and SpiritsEurope which acts as the European representative body for producers of spirit drinks with a membership comprising of 31 national associations representing the industry in 24 countries as well as a group of 10 leading spirits producing companies dispute the comparisons made between their products and the tobacco industry, arguing that the categorisation of UPFs lacks a universal definition and even attempt to claim partial credit for declining alcohol-related deaths due to their self-regulated efforts.

Tobacco Europe, which represents tobacco behemoths such as British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, and Imperial Brands, as well as 8 national manufacturing associations from across Europe, claims it’s a commitment to developing less harmful products as part of Europe’s Beating Cancer plan.

Comment by Allen Carr’s Easyway

Every year we help millions of people who are trapped in addiction to find their way to freedom from smoking, vaping, alcohol, unhealthy eating, and many other addictions and behavioural issues. We’ve been highlighting the influence of the tobacco, food, gambling, and drink industries for more than 40 years.

These industries aren’t the solution to the problems they cause and controlling their ability to manipulate markets and the policies of governments on a global scale would be a huge step in the right direction.

We therefore support the stronger regulatory framework advocated by WHO.

The role that addiction plays in global health challenges highlighted by the WHO report is clear and well known as is the toxic influence of the industries and industry associations involved and the aggressive, misleading marketing they deploy to exploit consumers by luring them into addiction.

The benefits to society of healthier people reducing demands on health services and reduced mortality, as well as the obvious benefits to the individual, are clear.
Hilary Sutcliffe and Joe Woof at The Addiction Economy are doing some insightful and valuable work on the economic drivers of addiction.

Further reading

References: