EU and Italy save the clams… but let people die.

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When someone read of something that caused millions of diseases and deaths, usually he answer: “Couldn’t be possible to do something to prevent this?”.

This was the first question during the last outbreak of the Ebola virus (which caused ten thousand deaths in African countries). And newspapers talked about it for months.

Same thing about the migrants who died trying to reach Europe crossing the Mediterranean (3188 of them died from 1990 to 2013 but this number is much higher for the last two years).

In both cases there was a great attention both nationally and internationally, frightening medical missions, army, naval missions, study and research. Everything with one goal: trying and preventing deaths, or at least reducing them.

There’s another event that causes death much more (about 80 thousand deaths every year and hundreds of thousands of people with cancer) only in Italy, but no one says a word. Every year, in Italy, 83thousand men die because of smoking (in the world several million die, many more than those of the worst outbreaks of which were filled the front pages of newspapers).

Deaths that could have been easy avoided: it would have been enough banning cigarettes and tobacco derivates. The laws introduced so far looks to be ridiculous and morally reprehensible (why a government that claims to take care of health of citizens and requires use of seat belts and helmets for motorcyclists, should allow smoking knowing that – this is why they oblige producers to write on the packaging – causes death?).
It is already known that the campaign against smoking just launched by Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin entitled ‘But you’re stupid?’ won’t solve the problem.
The proof comes from the numbers of the consequences of smoking said by the same minister presenting this action: nowadays tobacco causes more deaths than alcohol, HIVs, drugs, road accidents, murder and suicide all together and the tobacco epidemic is a ”the largest public health challenges of history ”. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined tobacco smoking as ”the greatest threat to health in the European Region”.

Everybody knows seems to know the consequences but nobody yet has done anything. Neither in Italy nor in Europe. Nobody, for example, has proposed banning cigarettes and tobacco products. The decision, taken with the Sirchia law of 2003, banning smoking in some places and banning smoking to children had no results: according to a report made by University of Turin last year, 63,9 per cent of children did not receive any refusal by tobacco dealers nor any request for verification their age when asking to by cigarettes. Fully useless all the campaigns promoted up to now: 80 per cent of those who tried to quit failed (Istat data).

Rarely functional the European action in EU countries: Minister said the EU directive that provides “important news, from the ban on smoking in cars in front of children and pregnant women and the ban on sales to under-18s also electronic cigarettes with nicotine ” in Italy hasn’t been converted into law. And the situation is similar in several other countries: in Europe, as in Italy, the number of people who die and or are seriously diseased due to smoking is frightening.

The truth is that nobody concern of citizens health. It does not concern the companies that earn a lot of money selling cigarettes, it does not concern governments that get a lot of money from VAT and other taxed charged on this market, cashing in almost ten billion euro every year (to which must be added the rest of the sector , tax activities to licenses etc. etc.).
It does not concern the European Commission. The same Commission that is ready to prescribe rules about the size of mussels and clams and check that restaurants do not serve mussels of the wrong size, the same that prescribes how many ounces of milk should be taken from each breast of a cow. But that is very careful not to disturb the business of multinational companies banning cigarettes. Even after the World Health Organization has repeatedly confirmed that smoking is “the leading cause of preventable death in the world.”

And none says a word: all pretending not knowing the effects of this plague that causes more deaths than the Ebola virus: every year thousands of Europeans die and millions fall ill with terrible diseases. European and Italian citizens who will see their lives and their dreams go up in a smoke. The smoke of a cigarette.

C.Alessandro Mauceri

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