Wednesday, October 20

Europe sets a goal for a tobacco-free continent in twenty years


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“The EU’s commitment is to leave no stone unturned in the fight against cancer.” With this ambition the Commission summarizes the future European Plan to Beat Cancer which is almost finished and which will now have to enrich with its contributions the special committee created in September for this purpose in the Parliament of Strasbourg.

The plan, backed by Thousands million euros that it will receive from European funds for health, research, reconstruction and cohesion, describes legislative measures and concrete actions to support, coordinate or complement the efforts of the Twenty-seven at all stages of the fight against this disease: prevention, early diagnosis and screening, treatment , and quality of life for patients, survivors and caregivers.

It is the most powerful response from Brussels in three decades against an evil that each year kills 1.3 million Europeans and causes 2.6 million new patients. If the continent does not take new measures, there will be 25% more cases in 2035 – when it would already be the first cause of death – and up to 40% of the population will suffer it. A prediction that may be aggravated, since the collapse by the covid has reduced early diagnoses.

Improve the lives of patients and families

“The definitive plan must accelerate research and allow equal access to treatments in all states, but also be the common strategy of the entire EU for the next decade,” he ambitions. Nicolas Gonzalez Casares, Socialist MEP and speaker at the ‘Beat Cancer’ committee. “In addition to good care, it must include fiscal, social and labor measures to improve the lives of patients and their families,” adds Dolors Montserrat, a popular MEP and also one of the 33 members of this special committee.

The strategy will co-finance the extension of screening for the early detection of breast, colorectal and cervical tumors with the goal that by 2030 they will reach 90% of citizens at risk across the EU

The strategy, of which an almost final draft already exists, contemplates a strong battery of preventive actions. It is not surprising when you consider that 40% of cancers are preventable with healthy lifestyle habits. One of the most striking actions is the one that aims to reduce smokers to almost nothing (to less than 5%) by 2040. To achieve «a generation without tobacco»–Which causes 27% of cancers and 90% of lung cancers– plans to increase taxes and extend smoke-free areas to public outdoor spaces, both for straws and electronic cigarettes.

Siege to pollution

To the same end, he proposes to raise taxes on alcohol –15% of deaths from cancer in men and 30% in women–, stop stimulating its consumption with the program to promote agricultural products, and increase interventions on excessive drinkers in health, work, and social centers.

To improve the diet and reduce obesity, he proposes to lower the VAT on healthy foods and increase it to sugars and soft drinks, and withdraw community support for red meat and processed meats. It also wants to reduce from 2022 the maximum rates of PM2.5 microparticles – from traffic and the burning of oil and coal – to almost a third, and vaccinate in this decade against the human papillomavirus, which causes cancer of the cervix and pharynx, 90% of citizens at risk.

A European network of comprehensive cancer centers -there should be one for every five million inhabitants-, which in 2030 will attend to 90% of the patients who need it

As a flagship measure for early detection, it will co-finance the EU-wide extension to 90% of the population at risk of those screened for breast, colorectal and cervical tumors. The initiative that aims to bring highly accurate and reliable diagnostic imaging to all corners of the continent will contribute to this task and to improve treatments. This measure, like the rest of the following actions, seeks to extend to all countries the most advanced analyzes and therapies against tumors (liquid biopsies, genomics, immunotherapy, personalized medicine).

The creation of a European coordinating knowledge center on cancer will contribute to the interconnection and generation of synergies between researchers and professionals from all territories; the implementation of a continental network of comprehensive cancer centers – there must be one for every 5 million inhabitants and by 2030 serve 90% of patients– that brings the best diagnosis and treatment –including rare diseases and metastases– to each house; the launch of a medical platform that will share the cancer profiles of millions of Europeans to establish valid and successful treatment models for similar cases; and a reform package that seeks general access to novel and effective drugs at affordable prices.

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