In 2009 the European Commission adopted the Council Recommendation on Smoke-Free Environments, which called on Member States to "adopt and implement laws to fully protect their citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in enclosed public places, workplaces and public transport" no later than November 2012.

Based on self-reporting from the Member States the European Commission released a report on 22 February 2013, whose main conclusion was that the protection from second hand smoke has improved considerably: the Europeans exposed to tobacco smoke in bars have gone down from 46% in 2009 to 28% in 2012. However, according to Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg, exposure "still varies widely across the EU and there’s a long way to go to make "Smoke Free Europe" a reality".

Although all Member States reported to have adopted measures to protect citizens from second hand smoke, the national measures differ considerably: Belgium, Spain and Poland have achieved very significant drops in exposure within a short period of time, thanks to the adoption of comprehensive legislation. In other Member States, however, there are problems of enforcement.

In Europe more than 700.000 people die every year of tobacco-related diseases, many of them due to second hand smoke exposure: this threat to health is no longer unnoticed as, according to a 2009 survey, the majority of Europeans are in favor of a smoke-free legislation, which has proven to have immediate positive health effects such as reductions in the incidence of heart attacks and improvements in respiratory health.

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Last modified on March 3 2013.