Policy areas

ERS advocates for tobacco control, air quality and advocacy for health research. The European Union (EU) institutions decide on policy and legislation in areas such as research, environment and public health for over 500 million people in 28 countries. EU polices may affect you even if you are an ERS member from a non-EU country. ERS therefore takes EU affairs very seriously and its dedicated office located in Brussels aims to raise awareness of respiratory diseases and raise the profile of the respiratory profession across Europe.
ERS attempts to shape EU policies by engaging directly with policy makers; securing the allocation of vital resources that can deliver better lung health; and building coalitions on prevention, research, environment, tobacco control, public health, patients and specific disease areas. Find out more about our work on the following topics:

Tobacco control

Encouraging people to stop smoking is the most cost effective health intervention we can make in lung cancer and countless other health problems. ERS supports governments and international organisations in the implementation of plain packaging policies, combatting the illegal trade of cigarettes and in supporting all citizens to kick the habit.


of smokers start before they are 25. We support plain packaging legislation and stricter tobacco controls to reduce this number.

1 billion

people will die from smoking in the 21st Century if nothing is down to change current trends.


of the world’s burden of tobacco-related disease occurs in Europe, even though only 15% of the world’s population live on the continent.

Find out more about tobacco in the European Lung White Book

The ERS Tobacco Control Committee

SmokeHaz collects evidence on the health hazards of smoking and aims to provide scientific information on the negative consequences of active and passive smoking for public health. The project is independently funded by ERS and carried out with the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) with the oversight of the ERS Tobacco Control Committee and in collaboration with the European Lung Foundation (ELF). The SmokeHaz website, developed by ELF, is aimed at policy makers who wish to access information on the respiratory health hazards associated with smoking.

Environment Policy

ERS seeks to improve air quality for everybody by working with organisations such as HEAL and the European Lung Foundation (ELF) towards stronger emissions policies and raising public awareness of the interaction between health and environment.


premature deaths every year are caused by outdoor air pollution in Europe.


of the world’s population are exposed to indoor air pollution from open fires and wood-burning cooking stoves and it causes up to 1.5 million premature deaths globally each year.


of COPD cases are due to exposures to airborne pollutants in the workplace.

Find out more about environment and health in the European Lung White Book

Environment and Health Committee

Research and Innovation Policy

ERS supports science-based policy and helps to strengthen science by sponsoring research grants for recent graduates and healthcare professionals in their early career stages and doctoral research fellowships. We are investigating the possibility of an ERS Research Agency to deliver high-quality scientific research in the respiratory field.


fellowships were funded by ERS from October 2014 to June 2015.


grants and sponsorships were awarded during the ERS International Congress 2015, Amsterdam.


new task force applications were accepted in from April 2014 to March 2015.

Chronic diseases

ERS works with policy makers and organisations, such as the European Chronic Disease Alliance, to improve early recognition and early diagnosis of chronic diseases through cost-effective screening methods as well as promote innovative approaches to chronic care such as ehealth and mhealth. The Society also advocates for EU funding for long-term and industry-independent trials in patients with chronic disease.


of people with bronchiectasis have an existing condition, such as cystic fibrosis or an immune deficiency.

10 million

Europeans aged under 45 have asthma.


of cystic fibrosis patients are over 18 years old and this proportion is growing.

Find out more about chronic diseases in the European Lung White Book