In Central Europe Austria has a higher smoking prevalence than its neighbors and, with the exception of Germany, all smoking rates for EU members in Central Europe exceeded the EU average . Also, passive smoking in percent of the population aged ≥15 years was above the EU average in the Czech Republic, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Austria, but has decreased considerably in Hungary since the reform of tobacco legislation in 2012 (Table 2). In the Tobacco Control Scale a country can gain up to 30 points for a high tobacco price adjusted for purchasing power, up to 22 points for smoke-free legislation and enforcement, up to 15 points for public information and campaigning and up to 13 points for comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsoring.
It is insufficient to look at the spending on information on the benefits of non-smoking, if these campaigns are not evaluated, address children only or serve mainly to distribute a photo of the health minister for his reputation as a health campaigner. Hypocritical politicians prefer to talk about “improvement of youth protection”, but still give minors access to tobacco shops and smoking rooms, refuse to ban tobacco advertising and block independent mystery shopping for age control. They know that the electronic age control by vending machines has failed, but they keep them due to business interests. Hungary previously had extremely high smoking rates and lung cancer rates, but shortened cigarette supply by a radical reduction of retail stores and banned access of minors to tobacco shops in 2012. Hungary has no cigarette vending machines and banned any outdoor tobacco advertising .
Comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsoring are lacking in many European countries and implementation of the EU tobacco product directive is incomplete . Larger picture warnings have been introduced, but to date plain packaging is obligatory only in France, the United Kingdom and Ireland. This removal of trademarks, logos, colors and graphics, apart from the government health warning, and brand names presented in a standardized typeface, was first introduced in Australia. In Norway, Hungary and Slovenia laws were passed to make plain packaging obligatory and similar laws are prepared at present in Romania and other EU countries, so that they will get closer to the maximum of 10 points, which is given in the Tobacco Control Scale for appropriate warnings.