Accelerating tobacco control at the national level with the Smoke-free Generation movement in the Netherlands

NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2022 Dec 23;32(1):58. doi: 10.1038/s41533-022-00321-8.


The Netherlands has moved towards the forefront of tobacco control in Europe, after having implemented important tobacco control measures in 2020 and 2021, which included higher tobacco taxation, plain packaging of tobacco products, a partial point of sale tobacco display ban, smoking ban on school grounds, and other smoking restrictions. We examined the factors contributing to these successes, focussing on the network of tobacco control advocacy organisations and the process of agenda-setting. Crucial determining factors were stricter adherence to Article 5.3 FCTC, which prevents government to consult tobacco industry, and the genesis of a 'Smoke-free Generation' movement in the wider society, initiated by the three main national charities (Lung Foundation Netherlands, Dutch Heart Foundation, Dutch Cancer Society). The Smoke-free Generation concept proved to be a highly attractive unifying strategy for national en local policy makers and Dutch society. As a result, the Dutch government was able to start a process of strengthening tobacco control policy through drafting and implementing a National Prevention Agreement, which aims at a tobacco control endgame goal of less than 5% smokers in 2040. Between 2019 and 2020 smoking rates dropped from 21.7% to 20.2%. The Dutch experience can provide inspiration for countries where tobacco control is still lagging behind. It also illustrates that continued vigilance is needed, since the most recent government change was associated with a hampering of further reduction of the proportion of smokers and a temporary drop in attention to tobacco control from the central government.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Control*
  • Tobacco Industry*