EU smoking development

Analysis - How have tobacco regulations changed the EU members smoking behaviour?

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1 Introduction

June 8 2019 – Austria’s government collapsed over the leaks of the so called “Ibiza-Videos”. Now the Austrian Parliament has the power to pass laws that during a regular legislation would not pass because of opposing views or coalition contracts. One of those laws is the “Nichtraucherschutzgesetzt” (smoke-free law). The law would ban smoking from restaurants, cafés, bars and other restaurant like establishments. But how useful are such laws?
Luckily, we live in the year 2019 and we can get data from everywhere. The OECD has an open data portal where information of the EU members smoking behavior can be found.
OECD (2019), Daily smokers (indicator). doi: 10.1787/1ff488c2-en (Accessed on 08 June 2019)

The above data is collected yearly and shows the smoking percentage of a given countries population. Unfortunately, the data is not up to date for every country and some countries are missing completely.
Missing values (missing years) have been filled with linear interpolation.

I will not go into trying to explain the results or find some answers. I think the figures speak for themselves.

2 Anti-Smoking laws vs Austria

This is a list of EU members that have banned smoking from gastronomy:

  1. Belgium: banned since 2010
  2. Czech Republik: banned sicne 2017 (no data)
  3. Denmark: banned since 2007 (in bars under 40m2 it is still allowed to smoke)
  4. Estonia: banned since 2007
  5. Finland: banned since 2007
  6. France: banned since 2007 (not enforced very strictly)
  7. Greece: banned since 2010 (not enforced very strictly)
  8. Hungary: banned since 2012
  9. Ireland: banned since 2004
  10. Italy: banned since 2003
  11. Latvia: banned since 2010 (data since 2008)
  12. Lithuania: banned since 2007 (data since 2005)
  13. Netherlands: banned sicne 2008
  14. Spain: banned since 2011
  15. Sweden: banned since 2005
  16. United Kingdom: banned since 2007
The information is taken from Wikipedia.
Germany is not included in this list because smoking laws are handled on state level. As of 2016, around 40% of the German populations lives in areas where strict tobacco laws (including prohibited consumption in bars, cafes, restaurants) apply.

The images below show the smoking percentage of above-mentioned countries and from Austria. Red lines indicate that during this time no smoking regulations at all were applied in the gastronomy. Yellow indicates that there were some regulations but not a total ban. Green indicates a total of smoking from bars, cafes, clubs and restaurants.

The dotted grey lines are the estimated values till 2020 from the last collected data point of each country. This estimate is mainly for esthetic purposes and should not be considered a valid prediction of future smoking behavior. It is a simple linear regression applied to the corresponding countries data.

Counting male and female population, Austria takes the third place with around 25% of the people smoking, only to be beaten by France and Hungary. Looking on women only, the results are even more disturbing. Austria leads the table with France on the second and Hungary on the third place. Surprisingly in comparison to women, Austrian men seem to smoke way less and are only on the 5th place in the table.

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3 Percentage change per country

Underneath figures show the percentage change in smoking population for every EU member. The percentage change is calculated between 2000 and the last available data point provided by the OECD. Red bars indicate countries were smoking is not banned from gastronomy, green the opposite.
There are only two countries where there are more smokers then in the year 2000. Slovakia and Austria. If we look at the female chart, Austria leads the chart with 5% to the second place Latvia.

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