Dutch doctors demand tough anti-smoking policy
Two lung specialists are calling for price of tobacco products to be raised by 300 percent.27 May 2008
BEVERWIJK - Two lung specialists from a hospital in Beverwijk to the north of Amsterdam say Dutch anti-smoking policy is not nearly aggressive enough.
Lung specialists Pauline Decker and Wanda de Kanter say the ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and cafes, scheduled to go into force on 1 July is insufficient.
The doctors are supported in their position by the Dutch Association of Lung Specialists.
They believe that the smoking ban in bars and restaurants is less than adequate, and are pushing for the price of tobacco products to be raised by 300 percent. They have also called for health insurers to pay for treatment to help people quit smoking.
They are also demanding a ban on smoking on school premises, and on the sale of cigarettes in supermarkets and filling stations.
The doctors stress that their demands are designed to lessen patients' suffering and that they are not angry with smokers but with the government.
According to Dr De Kanter, "We're not angry with smokers, we're angry with the government. The government is addicted to the revenue generated by tobacco taxes.
"The smoking ban is all well and good but it doesn't go far enough. The age limit for buying tobacco should be raised from 16 to 18 and the price of a pack of cigarettes should be tripled.
"That way young people won't be able to afford them. It's absolutely scandalous that the health minister is opposed to allowing insurance companies to cover anti-smoking treatments".
Doctors Decker and De Kanter, authors of a book called The Netherlands Stops - Smoking! which will be released on 31 May to coincide with World Stop Smoking Day, say "23,000 people die in The Netherlands every year from smoking-related illnesses. What are we doing to ourselves?"
[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]