Contact Us

Policies on Tobacco and Their Role in Primary Cancer Prevention: A Focus on World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day, observed on May 31, highlights the critical role of tobacco control policies in primary cancer prevention.

In recent years, the implementation of smoke-free policies across Europe has been a key strategy in the fight against tobacco-related health issues, particularly cancer.  

Professor Stefania Boccia and her research team from The Policlinico Universitario Fondazione Agostino Gemelli – IRCCS (FPG) with the participation of Prof. Ricciardi, have conducted a study assessing the effectiveness of smoke-free policies in various European countries.

By examining data before and after the implementation of these policies, the study employed an interrupted time series analysis to determine their impact. The findings revealed that approximately half of the smoke-free policies were associated with reduced cigarette consumption and decreased mortality due to acute myocardial infarction (AMI). 

Key factors influencing policy effectiveness include the implementation year, human development index (HDI), and enforcement locations. Recent and bar-specific bans have significantly reduced cigarette consumption and AMI mortality, highlighting the health benefits of smoke-free environments [1].

Smoking is a well-documented risk factor for numerous types of cancer, including lung, throat, and mouth cancers. Comprehensive smoke-free policies play a critical role in reducing both direct smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, thereby lowering cancer risks. Secondhand smoke is a known cause of lung cancer and other respiratory conditions in non-smokers, so implementing these policies is vital for public health.

Moreover, increasing taxes on tobacco products effectively reduces their affordability, particularly for younger individuals and lower-income groups. Higher prices discourage the initiation of smoking among non-smokers and motivate current smokers to reduce consumption or quit altogether. Consequently, this leads to a lower incidence of smoking-related cancers. Regulations that limit nicotine content, ban flavoured tobacco products, and control harmful additives also contribute to reducing the addictiveness and appeal of tobacco products. These measures support smoking cessation efforts and help prevent the initiation of smoking, further aiding in cancer prevention.

The research by Prof. Boccia and her team demonstrates that comprehensive tobacco control policies are effective in reducing tobacco use and the associated burden of cancer. Smoke-free laws have been linked to significant reductions in lung cancer incidence and mortality. Additionally, studies have shown that higher tobacco taxes and price increases correlate with lower smoking prevalence and decreased cancer rates.

Continued monitoring of tobacco use and its health effects is essential for evaluating the impact of existing policies and identifying areas for improvement. Implementing and enforcing robust tobacco control policies, especially in countries with higher smoking rates and lower socioeconomic indicators, is crucial for effective cancer prevention.

The Policlinico Universitario Fondazione Agostino Gemelli – IRCCS (FPG), represented by Prof. Boccia and her team, is a key partner in the 4P-CAN consortium. FPG has a longstanding commitment to combating health risks such as smoking [2][3][4][5].

In the 4P-CAN project, FPG continues its efforts in cancer primary prevention through ongoing research. It plays a significant role in the governance and management of the project, particularly in mapping and assessing national policies, legislation, and regulatory frameworks related to alcohol, food, and sugar-sweetened beverages[6]. These efforts are crucial in the broader strategy to combat cancer and improve public health outcomes. 

Author(s): FPG team

[1] Sassano M, Mariani M, Pastorino R, Ricciardi W, La Vecchia C, Boccia S. Association of national smoke-free policies with per-capita cigarette consumption and acute myocardial infarction mortality in Europe. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2024 May 9;78(6):388-394. doi: 10.1136/jech-2023-220746. PMID: 38485217.

[2] In 2023, it established the Integrated Psychiatric Center for Research, Prevention, and Treatment of Addictions (CePID), further solidifying its dedication to public health. 




[6] Sassano M, Castagna C, Villani L, Quaranta G, Pastorino R, Ricciardi W, Boccia S. National taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages and its association with overweight, obesity, and diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2024 Apr;119(4):990-1006. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.12.013. Epub 2024 Feb 26. PMID: 38569789.

Our cookie policy

We use cookies or similar technologies for technical purposes and, with your consent, for other purposes as specified in the cookie policy. Denying consent may make related features unavailable.

Use the “Accept & Close” button to consent. Use the “Decline” button or close this notice to continue without accepting.

To find out more, read our cookies and privacy policy.