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Feliu et al’s conclusion “in the European Union countries with the higher scores in the Tobacco Control Scale, which indicates higher tobacco control efforts, have lower prevalence of smokers, higher quit ratios and higher relative decreases in their prevalence rates of smokers.” deserved comment.
First, it seems a tautology. Tobacco control policies are robustly evidence based. Accordingly, more efforts, less smokers.
Second, a PubMed search with “"tobacco control scale" only retrieved 27 articles since 2006 and no validation published yet. Obviously, the Scale poorly correlated with smoking rate: r2 being .58 in 2002/3, .15 in 2006/7 and .06 in 2010/11.(From table 3 in 2; n= 11 European countries).
Third, why make simple stuff complex? This surrogate is complex to calculate and its items are subjective because issuing a decree is useless if no implementation were enforced. In contrast, the smoking rate and its evolution are simple and reliable! How France can be ranked 4th among 28 countries with a 57/100 score (1) while smoking prevalence has been plateauing for so long at more than 30%? In France, from 2004 to 2017 no relevant increase in tobacco taxes, no implementation of the legal smoking ban in cafés or of the ban of sale to minors despite sting operations by NGO showing evidence of serious breaches.(3)
Fourth, claiming “the European Union should continue implementing comprehensive tobacco control pol...
Fourth, claiming “the European Union should continue implementing comprehensive tobacco control policies in Europe.”(1) is optimistic, at best. The European Union is the chimney of rich countries: smoking prevalence in Italy, France and Germany is almost twice that in Australia and 1.5 fold that in the US. Almost no tobacco control in the European Union but Finland! The Scale is a smokescreen for tricky politicians cherry picking the weakest measures without even providing tools for implementation or monitoring.
Last, I am not aware that a critical assessment of the Eurobarometer method is available, and the limitations of such surveys cannot be overlooked. This deserves scrutiny as other data from the European Union on such a topic are a cause for concern: eg. the European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs estimates smoking prevalence only on a declarative basis, roughly 10% of the data are missing despite only recruiting those attending school and only 80 % of the students said that they thought that their classmates had answered the questions honestly.(4)
1 Feliu A, Filippidis FT, Joossens L et al. Impact of tobacco control policies on smoking prevalence and quit ratios in 27 European Union countries from 2006 to 2014. Online Feb 22.
2 Kuipers MA, Monshouwer K, van Laar M, Kunst AE. Tobacco control and socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent smoking in Europe. Am J Prev Med 2015;49:e64-e72.
3 Braillon A, Mereau AS, Dubois G. [Tobacco control in France: effects of public policy on mortality]. Presse Med 2012;41:679-81.
4 Hibell B, Molinaro S, Siciliano V, Kraus L. The 2013 ESPAD validity study. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Publications Office of the European Union. Luxembourg. 2015.