November 12, 2018
by Forest EU

Opinion poll: No appetite for stricter anti-tobacco rules say EU voters

Smokers campaign group publishes pan-European survey on views of European citizens on EU measures to tackle smoking.

BRUSSELS, November 13th 2018 – An opinion poll published today (13 November 2018) by the smokers’ campaign group Forest EU reveals that there’s no overwhelming public support for more tobacco control measures in the EU.

The opinion poll conducted by Populus for Forest EU found:


  • No overwhelming public support for more tobacco control measures
    Overall respondents are more likely to agree (56%) that measures to tackle smoking have gone far enough;


  • Reducing tobacco use should not be a DG SANTE priority
    Out of a list of 10 key health objectives, Europeans think curbing tobacco consumption is the second least important issue for the European Commission’s DG SANTE to focus on (#9 out of 10 options), far below tackling breast cancer (#1), food information, waste and fraud (#2) and rare diseases (#3);


  • Plain packaging is not the solution to reduce youth smoking
    Just 3% of EU citizens think the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products is the most effective solution to reduce youth smoking rates, way below mandatory education in schools about the health risks of smoking (52%), harsher penalties for shopkeepers caught selling tobacco to children (23%) and a ban on adults buying cigarettes for children (9%).


Commenting on the poll, Guillaume Périgois, Director of Forest EU, said:

“Lobby groups hostile to tobacco consumption are campaigning for the EU institutions and national governments to introduce new rules they believe are fundamental to eradicating smoking. What this poll shows however is that there is relatively little public support for further extreme anti-smoking measures.”

“What is similarly clear is that EU voters support a common-sense approach to tobacco control. Regulation should not be made at the behest of taxpayer-funded lobby groups but based on trustworthy, independent evidence.”

He added:

“A significant number of European adults smoke, and enjoy doing it, and their contribution to society is substantial. The best way for the next European Commission to signal a move away from an excessively bureaucratic approach would be to prioritize actions in the areas that EU citizens clearly see a need.”

“The results of this survey show that Forest EU’s positions are representative of those held by smokers in Europe. Like Forest EU, 73% of European smokers think tobacco control measures have gone far enough, 47% think curbing tobacco use should be DG SANTE’s bottom priority and 80% think bars, cafés and restaurants should have the legal option to provide a separate, well-ventilated smoking room.”

‘Populus – Attitudes towards tobacco policies in the EU’ is published by Forest EU on Tuesday 13th November 2018.


Further comment:
Guillaume Périgois
Director, Forest EU
+32 4 78 98 07 43

Note to editors:

  • Populus interviewed 6,167 adults aged 18+ online in France (1,024), Germany (1,036), Poland (1,040), Romania (1,029), Italy (1,018) and Spain (1,020), with interviews being conducted between 25th and 31st May 2018.



  • This selection of member states covers 60% of the EU population with 310 million citizens and a diversity in smokers’ habits, tobacco control policies and historical factors.


  • Forest EU is a campaign that informs smokers about the issues that affect them in the European Union and engages with stakeholders so the views of informed adult smokers and non-smokers with an interest in tobacco policy are considered within the EU’s decision-making process.


  • Forest EU is supported by the Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM) whose members are Japan Tobacco International (JTI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Brands PLC (IMB), and by the members of the European Smoking Tobacco Association (ESTA). Our annual budget in 2018 is €165,000.


  • Forest EU has an independent organizational structure and advocates for the consumer, not the tobacco industry. Forest EU accepts there are serious health risks associated with smoking tobacco and does not, through its campaigning activities, seek to promote or encourage it.



About the methodology:

  • Poll methodology – online recruitment: Populus collaborated with a combination of online panel partners for the delivery of this project. Online panels in each market will vary in size, however are recruited in a broadly consist manner – via banner adverts, social media, online communities and websites of all types in each market. Once initially directed to the panel provider’s website, the respondent is asked to pre-register. This registration requires a valid postcode/address information as proof of identity. Only when valid pre-registration is achieved does the panel send an email invitation to complete a fuller registration. This is called a double opt-in registration. Because sample sources are not only different from each other, but can also change over time, Populus uses a combination of personality and psychographic characteristics to understand and identify the underlying traits which make a difference in the way people answer survey questions. By asking respondents a short set of key questions, Populus can control the characteristics of people within the sample. As a result, Populus is able to provide an exceptionally consistent sample blend across all markets measured by comparison with external benchmarks, including telephone sample studies.


  • Poll methodology – online sampling: A stratified sampling technique was employed for this study, using multiple demographic groupings to select respondents randomly from panels within each market. This approach helps to minimise selection bias and ensure certain segments of the population are not over- or under-represented. Populus starts by selecting email addresses randomly within the demographic quotas required, taking account of predicted response rates which are automatically calculated using the panel provider’s sampling software. The sample itself is then automatically randomised for potentially-qualifying individuals. For all these markets Populus sets quotas on age, gender and region and weights the data to the known profile of each market using the same variables to bring the sample into the line with the local demographic composition. In addition to this Populus evaluates completed interviews on an ongoing basis which helped ensure a good spread of interviews is achieved by other key groups such as income, level of education and ethnicity, etc (although not a fixed quota). All respondents have to answer Populus’s proprietary quality control questions which seek to ensure respondents are not speeding through the survey or randomly selecting answers. Populus also checks to ensure answers given are consistent at different points in the survey. Principally Populus is only interested in paying respondents who have given care and consideration to answering the survey questions.


  • Populus is a founding member of the British polling Council and abides by its code of conduct. For more information contact: