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  • Resolution of the Council and the representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, of 7 July 1986 on a programme of action of the European Communities against cancer, 1987-1989

Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 22 million
To contribute to an improvement of the health and quality of life of citizens within the community by reducing the number of illnesses due to cancer and the related mortality, and decreasing the potential years of life lost because of cancer.


The conclusions of the ad hoc Committee of cancer experts (which met in Paris on 19 and 20 February 1986), were forwarded to the Council by the Commission in its report of 10 March 1986. A five-year action programme against cancer was proposed. The following priority actions were considered necessary:

- Tobacco: the development of measures to limit and reduce the use of tobacco;

- Chemical substances: the development of harmonized criteria and procedures for evaluating the carcinogenic nature of chemical substances;

- Nutrition and alcohol: the assessment of the results of research taking account of differing circumstances and habits in the Member States (attention should also be paid to abuses in the consumption of alcohol);

- Prevention/early diagnosis: the exchange of information and experience, particularly on Member States' preventative and early diagnosis programmes and, on this basis, the preparation of any appropriate measures;

- Epidemiological data: the exchange of information on Member States' structures and procedures for cancer epidemiology and evaluation of those structures and procedures with a view to improving them;

- Health education: the exchange of information and experience, particularly on Member States' health education and information programmes;

- International collaboration: Collaboration with international and national organizations active in the field covered by these actions to achieve maximum possible effectiveness.


Under the priority action areas, the following measures were proposed :

The campaign against tobacco :
- Upwards alignment of taxation on tobacco manufactured in the European Community;
- Financing of preventative actions at national level by the use of increased fiscal measures on tobacco;
- Publication of indices excluding tobacco by the Statistical Office of the European Communitites;
- Harmonization of cigarette labelling in the European Community;
- Prohibition of cigarettes with a high tar content;
- Harmonization of the standards for the components of tobacco smoke;
- Prohibition of tax-free sales of tobacco in the European Community;
- Protection of children from tobacco sales;
- Reorientation of tobacco production towards less toxic varieties and study of the possibilities of reconversion;
- Information and public awareness campaign in the struggle against tobacco;
- Study of national provisions, and development of proposed Community regulations on tobacco smoking in public places;
- Study of national provisions, and development of proposed Community regulations on the limitation of tobacco publicity;
- Comparative analysis of anti-smoking campaign;and
- Information exchange in the struggle against smoking.

Improvement in nutrition :
- Analysis of existing information on `nutrition and cancer';
Development of nutritional recommendations against cancer adapted to each of the categories of participants concerned;
- Harmonization of nutritional labelling of foodstuffs in the European Communities;
- Consumer protection against certain agents in foodstuffs;
- Improvement of existing information campaigns concerning nutrition;
- Initiation of information campaigns for recommended foodstuffs;
-Promotion of appropriate foodstuffs and techniques;
- Evaluation of pilot experiments in nutrition;and
- Exchange of information on `nutrition and cancer'.

Protection against carcinogenic agents :
- Protection against ionizing radiations and follow-up to Chernobyl;
- Creation of an observation antenna and establishment of a list of chamical substances suspected of being carcinogenic;
- Speeding-up of the work at Community level, and creation of a special group on classification and labelling of carcinogenic substances;%l- Adoption of Directives for the protection of workers;
- Prevention of occupational cancers by improving the practical organization in undertakings, including information to employers and workers;
- New measures for public protection against carcinogenic substances

Systematic screening and early diagnosis :
- Promotion of a policy for systematic screening and early diagnosis of cancer of the uterine cervix and cancer of the breast; and
- Evaluation and improvement of the policy for the systematic screening and early diagnosis of other common cancers.

The European Code Against Cancer : Transformation into layman's language of the European Code Against Cancer;

Health Education;

Training of the Health Professions; and

Cancer Research.


The Commission adopted a "partnership" approach to implementing the measures aimed at involving everyone concerned with the fight against cancer at national level :

- The Committee of Cancer Experts;
- The cancer associations, leagues and anti-smoking organisations in the European Community;
- The producers of television medical programmes;
- Representatives of general practitioners, who play a central role in early detection and systematic screening; and
- Senior officials in the health, education and research ministeries. Through the 75 actions announced at the beginning of 1987, the European Community demonstrated its ability to make a major contribution to the fight against cancer. Legislation was announced, discussed and adopted ,concerning the discouragement of tobacco use, improvement of nutrition and measures to combat carcinogenic chemicals and ionizing radiation. An average of ECU 9 million was available from 1987 to 1989 to help finance actions in the fields of research, prevention, training and health education.
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