Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
The Commission supports Member States' efforts regarding the effective protection of citizens from the exposure to tobacco smoke. Through the Council recommendation on smoke-free enviroments(1) Member States are encouraged to provide such effective protection in indoor public places, including bars and restaurants, by 2012. The Commission and National Focal Points designated by the Member States will cooperate closely on the implementation of the recommendation.
Regarding the protection of the health and safety of workers at work the EU supports the Member States' initiatives and may adopt minimum requirements for gradual implementation, having regard to national conditions and technical rules. Before submitting any proposal the Commission must consult management and labour. In accordance with Article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Commission has already completed the first stage consultation of the social partners at EU level on the direction of a possible initiative in this area. A second stage of consultation, on the content of a possible EU initiative, is planned for 2011.
The Commission is aware that tobacco use generates immense cost to society and that liability, including compensation, is envisaged in Article 19 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The Commission is studying the health costs of smoking and its implications including the liability issue.