In the early 1990s the premature mortality of young and middle-aged adults in many
countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) reached some of the highest levels in
the world. It was not only twice higher than in the countries of Western Europe, but
also above the rates of many developing countries, including China and India. The
main cause underlying this health catastrophe in CEE were tobacco-caused diseases.
In November 1990, almost precisely a year after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a
summit of tobacco control leaders took place in the town of Kazimierz in Poland. The
aim of the meeting was to devise a strategy and plan of action that would allow to
counteract the tobacco epidemic ravaging the post-communist states. The Kazimierz
conference gathered leading tobacco control experts from across Europe and North America.
Almost thirty years on from the Kazimierz Declaration, most of its health goals have
been fully accomplished. The gap in smoking between young adults in CEE and Western
Europe is almost closed, as evidenced by converging lung cancer morbidity and mortality
rates. However, tobacco control in Europe is far from being finished business. There
is an urgent need to formulate a new plan, akin to the Kazimierz Declaration in the
early 1990s, that would allow tobacco control in Europe to take another leap forward.
We need a Declaration of Athens that outlines the vision of civil society movement
for tobacco end game, and the ENSP is best placed to launch such an initiative.