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HEALTH

Germany set to ban cigarette street ads from 2022

Germany will finally ban outdoor tobacco advertising from 2022, the parliament announced Friday, becoming the last country in the EU to do so.

Germany set to ban cigarette street ads from 2022
Photo: DPA

The German upper house put the final stamp of approval on new legislation tightening restrictions on tobacco ads, after doctors campaigned for years to make tobacco less attractive to teenagers and young people.

Tobacco advertising is already outlawed in German media, but the country has long been the only EU member state that still allowed street posters and cinema advertising.

Julia Klöckner, the minister responsible for consumer protection, told DPA news agency that the far-reaching restrictions were long overdue.

READ ALSO: German doctors call for complete ban on smoking advertising

“Health protection must be the top priority here,” she said.

The new legislation also stipulates that from January 2021, cinemas must stop advertising tobacco products before films where children and young people may be present.

The bans will be widened to include electronic cigarettes from 2024.

READ ALSO: Germans now faced with pics of rotting teeth on cigarette packets

Cigarettes will also no longer be allowed to be given away for free at events or in competitions from the start of 2021.

An effort to push through similar bans in 2016 failed because of opposition from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc, but the party changed its position late last year.

Tobacco adverts in the media have been outlawed across the EU since 2005.

Germany's more liberal stance on tobacco advertising is in stark contrast to France and Britain, where cigarettes must be sold in plain packaging and adverts have been banned for years.

According to official data, the tobacco industry in Germany spends some 100 million euros ($118 million) a year on advertising in cinemas and on the streets.

Some 23 percent of German adults smoked tobacco every day, according to EU data from 2017.

OPINION: Why Germany needs to take the smoking ban more seriously

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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