BRUSSELS -- A survey published by the European Commission today, on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, shows no decrease in the overall smoking rate in the EU (26 percent) since 2014.

Amongst people aged 15 to 24 the rate has increased from 25 percent in 2014 to 29 percent in 2017.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "The increase in youth smoking rates illustrates the urgency for Member States to enforce the provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive which forbid attractive cigarettes aimed at enticing young people: characterising flavours, small packs, 'lipstick-style' packs and misleading elements on packaging. Since May this year all such products must have disappeared from the EU market. I encourage all Member States to use all additional tools at their disposal to protect young people and inform the public about the dangers of using tobacco."

''Significant differences exist between EU countries, with the highest smoking rates in Greece (37 percent), Bulgaria, France (both 36 percent) and Croatia (35 percent). At 7 percent, Sweden has the lowest smoking rate in the EU. Regular e-cigarette use remains stable at 2 percent, with 15 percent having tried such products at some point. With regard to attitudes to tobacco and e-cigarette control measures, the majority of those surveyed (63 percent) think e-cigarette use should be banned in places where there are smoking bans; and 46 percent are in favour of plain packaging for cigarettes,'' Andriukaitis added.

Source: Emirates News Agency