Luxembourg's Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance have announced several measures aimed at reducing tobacco use.
The ministries noted that smoking is the leading cause of both premature and preventable death in the world and is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease as well as various types of cancer. They added that cardiovascular disease was responsible for a quarter of deaths (1,046 deaths, i.e. 24.1%) and cancer was responsible for another quarter of deaths (1,098 deaths, i.e. 25.3%) in Luxembourg in 2021 (out of a total of 4,338 deaths).
Moreover, there has been an increase in the rate of daily and occasional smokers (of all ages) since 2018, according to the annual survey on smoking habits in Luxembourg commissioned by Fondation Cancer. The percentage of smokers in Luxembourg has never been so high since 2004, noted the ministries.
In order to combat these trends, the authorities are set to adopt a number of measures, on the proposal of the Ministry of Health and confirmed by the Government Council (Cabinet) on Friday 21 April 2023, aimed at better protecting the population against the harmful effects of tobacco. In this context, Luxembourg's Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert, said that she was ready to commit more than ever to the fight against tobacco: "Our priority is to prevent entry into youth smoking and founding the first tobacco-free generation."
In accordance with the application of the law relating to the fight against tobacco of 11 August 2006, the Ministry of Health aims to facilitate the access of smokers who wish to reduce or quit smoking to the smoking cessation support programme. This programme, set up in 2008 in collaboration with the National Health Fund (CNS), offers professional medical support to smokers during their withdrawal and partially reimburses medication and substitute products that may be necessary.
However, the current programme only allows a limited reimbursement and only after the end of the entire withdrawal period. Moreover, a new participation in the programme after a first failure is limited by time criteria. Consequently, a new agreement with the CNS, aimed at offering policyholders a more effective and accessible withdrawal programme, is expected to come into force by the end of July 2023.
In addition, the Ministry of Health confirmed that it will assess the feasibility of introducing plain tobacco packaging in Luxembourg and will study the necessary legal adaptations. The aim of such measures is to reduce the attractiveness of cigarette packs, particularly among young people.
The Government Council has also adopted a draft Grand-Ducal regulation fixing the autonomous excise duty and various provisions on manufactured tobacco, which aims to increase the excise duties tax on cigarettes and fine-cut rolling tobacco at €0.20, with the next increase scheduled for 2025.
In 2023, the Ministry of Health will launch an awareness and information campaign on the risks of smoking, more specifically targeting young people.