European governments should ban flavored tobacco products and require plain packaging, the European Society of Cardiology announced Friday, designated as World No Tobacco Day.
The group said flavors improve the taste of tobacco, and make it easier to inhale, which entices young people who are starting to smoke, Science Daily reports. They also called for covering at least 75 percent of the front and back of tobacco packaging with health warnings.
Other recommendations include imposing large financial penalties on retailers who sell tobacco to underage buyers, and regulating electronic cigarettes as tobacco and medical products.
The group noted smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke fivefold in people under age 50, and doubles the risk in people over 60.
The group’s spokesperson, Professor Grethe Tell, said in a news release, “We know that the earlier one starts smoking, the more damage the smoke does. One reason is that there is a dose response relationship between how many years one smokes and the risk of cardiovascular disease, so the younger you are when you start, the higher dose you get altogether. In addition, the earlier you start smoking, the more addicted you may become and therefore the more difficult it will be to stop smoking later.”