Italy and Ireland have banned cigarettes from public places. Most other countries use taxes as a way to discourage smoking. Now German officials have come up with another method to reduce the number of smokers.
Do they know what they're inhaling?
In the war against cigarette smoking, German Consumer Affairs Minister Renate Künast has stepped up the offensive. Künast published a list of about 200 cigarette additives on the Internet Wednesday and wants those deemed carcinogenic or addictive banned -- throughout Europe.
"If they cause cancer, they have to go," she told Berliner Morgenpost daily on Tuesday.
The list -- over 1,100 pages -- includes such seemingly neutral items such as cocoa or honey, harmless by themselves but combined with other additives in cigarettes potentially cancerous. Subsequently, researchers are set to investigate each ingredient for its harmful effects.
In this way, smokers, who number about 17 million in Germany, can inform themselves as to what exactly is in cigarettes and what harm they do, officials say.
Not a solution by itself
Investigating the additives
Health experts have long held that the tobacco industry inserts ingredients to make people more quickly addicted. Künast also said that certain ingredients, such as honey, attracted younger people to cigarettes more effectively.
A leading German researcher in addiction said he welcomed the plan but warned that it is not a panacea in the war against smoking.
"The number of smokers has to be reduced," Rolf Hüllinghorst told Berliner Morgenpost. "But we need the government to implement its complete action plan against smoking, created two years ago."
List will only irritiate
Raise taxes, some say
Meanwhile, opposition politicians attacked the initiative saying it wasn't an effective weapon against cigarettes and that it won't terrify smokers, only irritate them.
"It is a contradictory approach," CDU Bundestag member Helmut Heiderich told the Berliner Morgenpost.
He and other members of the Bundestag's committee on consumer affairs want further tax hikes on tobacco, which have proved effective in reducing the number of smokers.
At the same time, Heiderich's CDU colleague, Karl-Heiny Florenz, the head of the European Parliament's health committee told Bild daily that there should be a total ban on cigarettes: "Cigarettes are a dangerous weapon and need to be removed from the marketplace."