“The EU cannot turn its back on CVD”, expressed Dirk Sterckx and Linda McAvan, both MEPs and co-chairs of the MEP Heart Group. There is overwhelming evidence that prevention and lifestyle modification brings about big health gains. It is therefore the task of decision makers at European and national level to ensure that effective policies supporting prevention are put in place.
Indeed 80% of premature deaths can be prevented by tackling major risk factors particularly unhealthy diet and smoking. The recent decision of the Belgian Parliament to postpone the total ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants until 2014 is therefore all the more regrettable. Professor Simon Capewell, speaking on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology, described the decision as “catastrophic”.
Based on their research and extrapolation from observed efforts of an effective ban in other countries, this regrettable decision will result in 5,000 additional deaths and over 10,000 non-fatal heart attacks and strokes in Belgium until 2014.
The Belgian Heart League, the Belgian Society of Cardiology, the European Heart Network and the European Society of Cardiology consider that each country has a duty of care. Therefore, Belgian policy makers have a moral obligation to ensure that the smoking ban be implemented as soon as possible. A delay will be fatal for many people.
Freddy Van de Casseye, Belgian Heart League
Frank L.J. Van den Branden, Belgian Society of Cardiology
Peter Hollins, President of the European Heart Network
Roberto Ferrari, President of the European Society of Cardiology
Notes to editor
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents 62,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.
The European Heart Network (EHN) is a Brussels-based alliance of heart foundations and other concerned non-governmental organisations throughout Europe.