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Has there been a strong resurgence of tobacco on the big and small screens in recent years?
The fight against tobacco has had many successes over the decades. One of the most notable – and the most effective – has been the ban on tobacco advertising, particularly on television. But although the cigarette has disappeared from commercial breaks, it has remained comfortably wedged in the mouths of certain small-screen heroes. The Foundation contre le Cancer wanted to have a clearer idea of the rate of tobacco presence on screens, and commissioned the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel [Higher Audiovisual Council] (CSA) to carry out a study on the subject.
Dr Didier Vander Steichel, Director General of the Fondation contre le cancer, explained the issues.
Where did the idea for this study come from?
At the end of the 20th century, we saw lots of stars smoking on screen. A dangerous model for many viewers, particularly younger people. During the 1990s, it became less and less “politically correct” to see a hero smoking. It must be said that, in the meantime, the danger of tobacco had been clearly established and everyone knew about it. However, in recent years, tobacco seems to have made a strong resurgence on the big and small screens. Recently, the World Health Organisation has become worried about this. The Fondation was approached on this subject by some of its donors, so we thought it was necessary to take stock of the situation.
What questions are raised by the presence of tobacco on screen?
Since tobacco is still very much in evidence in series and films, it is legitimate to ask certain questions. Is this representation of smoking the result of “chance” or is it, conversely, sponsored covertly by the tobacco industry? Does the cigarette really give a character ‘added value’? What influence might these images have on the public? Are the directors aware of this?
So might the tobacco companies be using films and series as a channel for promoting their products?
Product placement (paying to place a product in a picture) of tobacco is prohibited in Belgium. But that does not affect repeat showings of old programmes or programmes made abroad. So it would not be surprising to see the tobacco industry using product placement to “renormalise” smoking behaviour and influence consumers. This strategy is particularly necessary for the tobacco industry since the other bans have proliferated: ban on smoking in the workplace, in cafés and restaurants, etc.
It may seem logical for a company to try and promote its products by all possible means. But, here, we’re talking about a sector that kills half its customers! This lack of ethics is appalling, and I consider it a duty to put as many spanners in the works of the tobacco industry as possible. It’s the industry that is our target, not the consumers. Our motto on the subject is ‘soft on smokers, hard on industry’.
Do you think a future without cigarettes on screen is possible?
Firstly, it should be mentioned that our objective is not to ban totally all tobacco presence on screen. The goal is not to black out every visible cigarette in documentaries or works of fictions from the past. Unfortunately, tobacco is part of the history of our societies and we are not asking for that history to be rewritten.
What we are seeking, first and foremost, is to raise awareness among directors and make them realise that an actor who smokes on screen risks being mistaken for a model. We want them to turn down any form of sponsoring from the tobacco industry.
We’re not the only ones to think like this. A study was recently carried out in the Netherlands on the same subject. Meanwhile, our French colleagues in the Ligue contre le Cancer have been looking at the presence of tobacco on cinema screens. As for us, this is a subject we will continue to follow closely in the future. This initial study will be able to serve as a basis for comparison in order to assess the changes in situation.
Prolongitudine, a "miracle method" to reduce the risk of cancer by more than one third!
A campaign initiated by the Foundation against Cancer to increase awareness of the European Code against Cancer
Prolongitudine, this "miracle method" is presented in a medication box and promises the user that it will reduce the risk of contracting cancer by more than one-third. However, there are no pills in the box, just a notice containing the 12 recommendations of the European Code against Cancer
The April campaign focuses on the Code in its entirety, because no single piece of advice is adequate on its own. Thanks to the collaboration of top notch professional associations: the Belgian Pharmaceutical Association, the Scientific Society of General Medicine and Domus Medica, displays containing the "notices" featuring the Code will be distributed in pharmacies and in general practitioners' waiting rooms. In addition, there will be a media campaign aimed at the general public.
Subsequently, and while still referring to the Code in its entirety, each individual theme in the Code will be covered in great detail over a period of several months and, notably, will be featured in a cartoon film and a quiz, as well as information on our website. We hope that we can rely on the media to broadcast these elements.
Everyone would like to believe in miracle methods to reduce the risk of cancer. However, we need to be realistic about this, if only to avoid fraudulent treatments ... With the new "Prolongitudine" campaign, the Foundation against Cancer wants to create a surprise and demonstrate that everyone can in fact reduce their risk of getting cancer simply by adapting their lifestyle ... and this has been proven!
To ensure that the message of this campaign will be well received by the general population, the "Prolongitudine" concept was tested on a population sample. The conclusions showed that the population sample clearly understood the message.
To know more : www.prolongitudine.be
Fundraising Bike Race for Kom Op tegen Kanker
On May 8, hundreds of riders drove shoulder to shoulder from the Grote Markt in Mechelen. Thus ended the 1000 km for Fight against Cancer 2016. The four-day festival was a top edition with a record output of 3.51 million euros.
"The 1000 km for Fight against Cancer continues to be a successful formula," exulted Marc Michils, director of Kom Op Tegen Kanker. "In seven years, the collected amount has reached 15.33 million euros."
The funds will be allocated to the Fight against Cancer Research where the government and the pharmaceutical industry have no regard.
More info: www.1000km.be
NEW PACKAGING FOR TOBACCO PRODUCTS AS OF 20TH OF MAY 2016
Since May 20th 2016, the European Tobacco Products Directive is a national law in Belgium. After a 1 year transition period to eliminate stock, all packs of rolling tobacco will also have deterring pictures and health warnings, as well as the telephone number of the free quit line Tabakstop. This wasn't the case before. Cigarette packs will change as well. They will carry larger health warnings and pictures at both sides of the pack and the free quit line will be featured more prominently.
The Belgian Foundation against Cancer applauds this application of the European Directive and launches a new campaign for the occasion: "you carry the solution with you". It features a video clip in Dutch and in French and a new folder "I feel so much better without tobacco". You can discover the campaign at www.tabakstop.be (Dutch) & www.tabacstop.be (French).
FIGHT COLORECTAL CANCER WITH A CHOCOLATE
This cancer is not talked about enough, yet 10 people die every day from the disease.
"Sweet reminder" is the name given to a chocolate in the shape of a "poo" inviting the public to help save lives. Created by the chocolate maker Laurent Gerbaud for the Cancer Foundation, its purpose is to gently remind everyone who receives the chocolate to have a screening test for colorectal cancer.
On the occasion of the month of the fight against colorectal cancer, the Cancer Foundation is making every endeavour to make the general public more aware of this cancer which is one of the most frequently occurring and most deadly forms of the disease in Belgium. In 2013, there were almost 3,000 victims, i.e. virtually 10 deaths per day. This is higher than the number of people killed on the roads. Unfortunately, this cancer is still perceived as taboo, because it is associated with a private area, the intestines, and far too often, people suffering from it still feel ashamed.
A free and effective screening test
And yet there is a free and painless screening test which can be done at home. The test can find traces of blood in the stools which are not visible to the naked eye. If the test is positive, a colonoscopy should be carried out to determine the cause of the bleeding. This examination can detect pre-cancerous lesions which can then be immediately removed to ensure that they do not become cancerous. It can also detect cancerous lesions at an early stage, which greatly increases the chance of being cured.
The Wallonia-Brussels Federation launched a programme of systematic screening in 2009. Everyone aged from 50 to 74 is sent a letter inviting them to go to their general practitioner to obtain the screening kit. This test should be carried out every two years. In order to have a better understanding of how the screening works, please watch the video on the website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCKS-QOWOvs
Offer a chocolate as a sweet reminder
Made of dark chocolate, 70% cocoa and filled with plum ganache, the Sweet Reminder is as delicious as it is useful. Everyone should offer this chocolate to someone near and dear to them who is over 50. The chocolate comes with an explanatory folder serving as a reminder to take the test which can potentially save life.
SUNBEDS: CANCER MACHINES - THE FOUNDATION AGAINST CANCER IS LAUNCHING ITS "TURBO CANCER 3000" CAMPAIGN
Because of sunbeds:
- There is up to 75% additional risk of skin cancer
- There are 800 deaths per year in Europe
Brussels, 10 March 2015 – The Foundation against Cancer is launching its "Turbo Cancer 3000" campaign, displaying posters on buses and trams in Antwerp, Brussels, Liège, Charleroi, Louvain, Hasselt, Bruges, Courtrai, Namur, Mons, Tournai and Louvain-la-Neuve. Prior to spring and summer, many people tend to use sunbeds. Furthermore, Belgians are the champion sunbed users (source: Euromelanoma). The general public underestimates the risks associated with using sunbeds, or is simply unaware of them. In addition, many sunbed centres are still distributing deceptive advertising and are exposing their clients to risks without warning them of the dangers involved. These centres are thus contributing to the alarming increase in the number of skin cancers – visuals and graphics related to the campaign can be found on the website www.cancer.be/bancsolaire
The number of skin cancers continues to increase at an alarming rate. The Belgian Cancer Registry has again provided proof of this as can be seen from the 2012 figures which it has just published (see § skin cancer in Belgium at the end of this text). This context has encouraged the Foundation against Cancer to launch a new campaign featuring posters on buses in the 12 above-mentioned towns.
Sunbeds are cancer machines
The major public health institutions consider the carcinogenic nature of sunbeds to be a proven fact. They all agree on numerous points, in particular, the use of sunbeds before the age of 35 increases the risk of skin cancer by 75%, and this risk increases each time the apparatus is used.
Even if sunbed centres adhere strictly to the Belgian regulations – and this is far from being the case if we are to believe the results of controls carried out by the FPS Economy (self-employed and energy) – this certainly does not mean that sunbeds are safe. There is no usage of sunbeds whatsoever that is without danger.
Registration and then prohibition of sunbeds
Within the framework of its general policy for the prevention of UV rays, the Foundation against Cancer seeks to increase the awareness of the Belgian population regarding the carcinogenic effects of sunbeds. However, they would like to go further, starting with the compulsory registration of every single sunbed. This would be an intermediate step prior to the pure and simple prohibition of sunbed centres, as is the case in Australia as of this year.
Skin cancer in Belgium
In Belgium, the number of new cases of skin cancer increases every year by 13% (6.6% for melanomas). In 2012, some 2,511 new cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed (this is the most aggressive form of skin cancer), and 27,489 cases of non-melanomas (the most frequent type which is less fatal).
In total, there were therefore 30,000 new cases of skin cancers of all types. This has a significant economic impact and puts a notable pressure on the health care sector, without mentioning the non-negligible mortality rate which represents approximately 400 deaths per year. It is clear that sustainable and better coordinated efforts are indispensable in order to reduce the number of skin cancers.
Meeting on Affordability of Cancer Treatment for Society
On the 7th of October, ECL and the Flemish Cancer League (VLK) organised a joint meeting on the topic of affordability of cancer treatment for society. In 2013, the VLK coordinated a high level think tank, who formulated recommendations at both national and EU level, and drafted a report, which can be seen here.
The objective of the 2014 meeting, held at the WHO Office in Brussels, was to discuss how to advance the VLK recommendations at the EU level. Participants at the meeting were from civil and medical societies, health authorities, consumer organisations, and industry. Next steps include the development of an action plan with VLK and other ECL members to be a strong, united voice on this issue
Tour of Hope
The Foundation against Cancer organised the first edition of the Tour of Hope, from 3 to July 5, 2014, a cycling event intended to raise funds for cancer. The participants passed through 1 or more of the 7 selected mountain passes in the Valley of the Ubaye, located in the Alps of Haute Provence. Each mountain pass that is passed will benefit 7 Belgian academic research centres from the funds collected during this event. Symbolically, these passes- including the Bonnette, highest pass bicycle lane in Europe - also represents the challenges that cancer patients are confronted with everyday. Jean-Michel Saive, Sven Nys and Bart Schols soar with the other participants, including several ex-patients.
Luc Van Haute, the Foundation CEO: "Thanks to the Tower of Hope, we hope to collect funds to benefit the fight against cancer. We also want to send a message of hope towards the patients, former patients and their relatives; the hope of a cure and the hope of a better quality of life during and after their illness. We are at their side in this fight. The proceeds will be paid in full to the 7 centres of oncology research in Belgium."
First Edition of Tour of Hope: almost 40,000 euro FOR THE ONCOLOGY RESEARCH BELGIAN!
From 3 to 5 July, there were not less than 54 researchers accompanied by (ex- ) patients and supporters who participated in the first Tour of Hope. This cycling event took place in the Valley of the Ubaye. It had as an objective of public awareness and to raise funds for the fight against cancer. This first edition has allowed to collect 38,836 euros.
Almost each of these 7 cancer centers was represented by a delegation of participants
More information on the Tower of Hope: www.tourofhope.be
World No Tobacco Day, May 31 2014
On World Cancer Day, the Foundation against Cancer Belgium issued a moving leaflet with ex-smokers testimonies.
Colorectal cancer: the Foundation against Cancer sounds the alarm
(Belga) A recent press release announced that the Foundation against Cancer and nine partner organisations have decided to pool their efforts in order to take up the fight against colorectal cancer. With this in mind, they have organised a common action to be held on 8 March at the Central Station in Brussels. In Belgium, 3,000 people suffering from colorectal cancer die every year.
A giant colon was installed in the hall of the Brussels station at the beginning of March, which is the international month for the fight against colorectal cancer. "This giant colon attracted the attention of the public, in a playful manner, in order to open up a dialogue on colorectal cancers", explained Dr. Anne Boucquiau, manager of the prevention service of the Foundation against Cancer.
Colorectal cancers (cancers of the colon and rectum) are the second cause of mortality by type of cancer in men and the third cause in women. Some 7,700 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year in Belgium and approximately 9 people die from this disease every day.
"And yet, it is easy to screen patients for colon cancer, it is free of charge and can be carried out in the home. The illness can be detected at an early stage. In this case, the chances of being cured are more than 90%", according to the Foundation, which went on to explain that if everyone involved in the screening carried out the test, more than 1,000 lives would be saved every year.
The Foundation against Cancer and the nine partner organisations, which include the Community Reference Centre for Cancer Screening, the non-profit organisation Question Santé, and the Belgian Royal Society of Gastroenterology, are all encouraging doctors to raise this subject systematically with patients belonging to the target group, i.e. people aged between 50 and 74.
World Cancer Day 2014
On 4 February, we said 'Thank You' with flowers!
On this occasion, the Foundation against Cancer organised two actions to enable people to express their gratitude to all those who are fighting against cancer alongside the patients: the researchers, doctors, nursing staff, etc.
On 4 February, more than 400 dancers came together in public spaces in the four major cities in Belgium (Brussels, Ghent, Courtrai and Sint-Truiden) to give a surprise Flashmob performance, attracting the attention of the public passing by. The dancers then distributed leaflets to members of the public, thereby encouraging them to participate in our Facebook action.
The Facebook campaign started on 30 January. By changing their profile photo to the image of a sunflower, more than 2,000 sympathizers showed their support for all those who are fighting cancer. Their photo was then integrated into a symbolic card which will be sent to all Belgian hospitals at the end of the campaign.
See more here
PRINCE LAURENT at the 20th ANNUAL FAMILY DAY – A MOMENT OF RELAXATION FOR YOUNG PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES
His Majesty Prince Laurent with Luc Van Haute, Director Foundation against Cancer, and Dr Karin Rondia, Medical Director Foundation against Cancer
On 6 October 2013, Prince Laurent attended the Planckendael Park on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Family Day. On this day, the Park opened for young cancer patients and their families to enable them to share some time together, away from the concerns of their every day lives. The Fondation contre le Cancer (Foundation against Cancer), Nationale Kinderkankerdag (National Children’s Cancer Day) and Planckendael Zoo were responsible for everything – they have been doing this annually for 20 years, taking care of transport, activities, meals, beverages, as well as providing an unobtrusive medical presence available at all times.
It is not always easy when a family is confronted with cancer. This was highlighted very clearly in the words of Karel Verbist, President of Nationale Kinderkankerdag: “When a child is ill, the entire family has to carry the burden of the illness.” Illness can be a strain on family relations. Therefore, the purpose of Family Day is to give families an opportunity to strengthen these family ties.
Through their experience with cancer, the Fondation contre le Cancer and Nationale Kinderkankerdag know all too well that enabling patients to escape from their routine, even if only for a day, is like a breath of fresh for them. This is precisely what Family Day gives to them. A family that has to routinely organise itself subject to the needs of a sick child can enjoy a pleasant day out in delightful surroundings. In the past, this event was always a success and this year, the organisers are expecting to welcome close to 1,000 visitors.
A notable visitor for the 20th anniversary
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Family Day had the honour of welcoming Prince Laurent.
Professional yet discreet support
At the event, the Fondation contre le Cancer served as a relay point handling contact with the paediatric care centres and the bus transport service. Several volunteers from the Nationale Kinderkankerdag were responsible for finding sponsors, handling the work, meals, etc. The two associations together took care of the activities. In order for everything to go smoothly, the care centres provided nursing staff. An emergency unit was set up at the site, but the medical staff wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible to enable the children to make take full advantage of their time with the animals. The Planckendael Park is ideal for this event because it can host all the young Belgian cancer patients whose health allows them to attend.
The Fondation contre le Cancer, the Nationale Kinderkankerdag association and the Zoo have been collaborating over the past 20 years to make sure that this day is a great success. This adventure would not be possible without the trust and collaboration of major paediatric oncology centres, and the support provided by several partners and sponsors, as well as the help of numerous volunteers.
Almost one child per day is diagnosed with cancer; however the chances of being cured are increasing all the time.
Fortunately, cancer is still a rare disease in children (less than 1% of all cancer cases). In Belgium, this represents approximately 320 new cases per year. In almost 40% of cases, we are looking at leukaemia or lymphoma (cancer of the lymph system). The chances of being cured have increased considerably over the past 40 years. Today, more than 80% of children diagnosed with cancer are cured, whereas in the 1960s, the mortality rate was 92% for boys and 70% for girls. We have every reason therefore to be hopeful.
WHAT IS YOUR UV SCORE? TEST THE TRUE CONDITION OF YOUR SKIN USING THE FREE UV SCAN
The Foundation against Cancer in Belgium wants to reduce the number of skin cancers by making young people aware of their UV score.
With its new campaign Futé au Soleil (Be bright in sunlight), the Foundation against Cancer is criss-crossing the whole of Belgium with a UV photographic apparatus which can give everyone a free evaluation of the damage done to their skin by UV rays, providing a personal score in the form of a photograph together with personalised advice. Media outlets targeting youngsters and young adults, such as the magazine Flair, are supporting this campaign. By evaluating the condition of their skin, the Foundation wants to make young people in Belgium aware of their behaviour with regard to exposure to the sun. The final objective of this awareness campaign is to stop the increase in the number of skin cancers. www.futeausoleil.be
The travelling campaign began on 11 July and will appear in several towns throughout Belgium. The youngsters and young adults who have their faces ‘scanned’ will receive personalised advice so that they can better protect their skin in the future.
What is the goal of this campaign? To make the public aware of how to enjoy the sun intelligently – and this is addressed particularly to young people. Skin cancer is indeed the form of cancer that occurs most frequently in the 15-29 age group. The sunbathing habit is the main risk factor for this disease, in addition to excessive and unprotected exposure to the sun during childhood and adolescence. The campaign also draws attention to the dangers of artificial UV rays, in other words, sun-beds. The Foundation against Cancer had already stated during an earlier campaign that sun-beds are in fact veritable ‘cancer machines’.
Young people are not aware of the dangers of skin cancer
The campaign intentionally emphasises the aesthetic damage (wrinkles, pigmentation) resulting from unprotected exposure to the sun. Studies have in fact demonstrated that young people (and users of sun-beds) are more concerned about the impact on the way they look (premature ageing) than about the risks linked to skin cancer. Young people who protect themselves from premature ageing of the skin are also in fact protecting themselves from skin cancer. Several media outlets are specifically targeting young people (the magazine Flair, the radio station Studio Brussel), they have both decided to support this campaign, and thereby contribute to stopping the alarming increase in skin cancers (+5% per year, whereas 90% of these cases could be avoided!). Discover some well-known faces who have had their UV scores evaluated on www.futeausoleil.be.
The Belgian Princesses Claire and Lea met children with cancer during the one-week summer camp organised each year since 1989 by the Foundation against Cancer, with medical care on the spot. Several activities were planned, like horse-riding, bowling, beauty workshop, yoga, etc.
Each year, children have the opportunity of taking real holidays, thanks to the nurses, volonteers and doctors.
On May 18-19 took place the second Relay for Life in Braine-l’Alleud, near Brussels. It was even more successful than the last year edition, thanks to the sun and the numerous volonteers! There were 41 teams, 1129 participants and 242 participants for the Survivor Tour. More than 80.000 euro were obtained. Thank you to everyone!
Come join us, stick your tongue out at cancer!
Today, Friday 22 February, the Flemish League against Cancer (VLK) and the Flemish Broadcasting Corporation (VRT) have given the starting signal for this year's Join the Fight Against Cancer campaign. This year, the campaign's main theme is cancer in children and in particular the late consequences of the disease in young patients. The campaign calls on Flanders to collectively stick out their tongues at cancer. It will culminate in a live show on the Eén television channel on 16 March.
The focus is on the late side effects of cancer in children. Cancer treatments have serious side effects on children, even more so than on adults. Their growth and development can be stunted. Fortunately, increasing numbers of children survive the disease and have a whole life ahead of them. It is therefore highly relevant to find out more about the late effects of cancer and how they can be minimised even during the period of treatment.
The Join the Fight against Cancer campaign wants to massively mobilise Flanders to combat the disease and, in line with this year's theme, we have chosen the symbol of a child's defiance: stick out your tongue. Marc Michils, campaign manager states: "We ask adults to follow the children's example, and collectively stick out their tongues against cancer, to take a photo of this gesture and especially tell people why and for whom they are doing this, and then put the picture on the campaign website: www.komoptegenkanker.be” .
The high point of the campaign will be the live show of Join the Fight against Cancer broadcast on the Eén tv channel on 16 March. The show will focus on children who have or have had cancer. It marks the starting point of a large number of local campaigners to move into action themselves and raise cash for the fight against cancer: money with which vital projects will be funded.
In the run-up to the show, the other VRT stations will also give special attention to the campaign and its theme.
Breast cancer concerns all of us
Supporting research against breast cancer is investing in a future in which no one will pass away because of this disease. That is the core message of the campaign ‘Breast cancer concerns all of us’ (borstkanker raakt ons allemaal / le cancer du sein nous touche tous), issued by the Belgian Foundation against Cancer. It is more than just a statement: today 90% of breast cancers – all types and all stages confounded – are survived. 25 years ago, this was only 75%. This progress is due to years of meticulous research.
That is why the Foundation puts the spotlight on researchers in its very first online fundraising campaign. On the website www.ikbengeraakt.be (Dutch) or www.cametouche.be (French) these researchers explain in a comprehensible way of what consists their job. But not only researchers are given a platform. Everybody, whether they are patients, friends or relatives, can share their testimonial about how breast cancer affected their life.
The Foundation calls out to visitors to donate money to scientific research or to start their own support team to raise money with the help of their friends and family.
A critical view of policies concerning cancer-related chemicals in the environment (Executive Summary)
Research Report – May 2012-07-30
by Cathy Rigolle, Knowledge and policy department, Vlaamse Liga tegen Kanker (Flemish Cancer League)
Cancer‐related chemical agents are present everywhere in the environment. The term ‘cancer-‐related’ refers to chemicals classified as carcinogens, and also substances suspected of causing cancer, such as endocrine disruptors. It is obvious that people should have minimum exposure to these elements and preferably no exposure at all. This can be achieved by implementing efficient regulations and policies.
In this report, the VLK examines recent policies and regulations. In November 2005, the VLK organised a symposium entitled “How carcinogenic is our environment?” in which the VLK and national and international specialists presented the link between the environment and cancer. Ten recommendations were subsequently submitted to policy makers with a view to reducing exposure to carcinogens in the environment.
This report studies the topic in greater detail, providing an evaluation of policies and regulations affecting cancer-related chemicals in two domains: chemicals governed by REACH Regulation and the policies and new regulations concerning plant protection products (agricultural pesticides) and biocides (non-agricultural pesticides). Much has changed in both domains since the November 2005 symposium
The report states that in the past, environmental pollution has been underestimated as a cause of cancer. There are now an increasing number of indications that pollution is a significant element in contributing to the development of cancer. Chapter 1 gives a brief overview of some scientific insights and uncertainties.
A policy that targets only chemicals that are carcinogenic is not sufficient. The symposium called for two major policy principles to be taken into account as well: the principle of physical-chemical hygiene and the precautionary principle.
On 1 June 2007, EC Regulation No 1907/2006 ‘concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency’ came into force. The European Chemicals Agency, or
ECHA, manages the entire REACH process and involves the member states and interested parties. The European Commission also plays an important role in the decision-making process.
In addition to registration, REACH also has in its remit a dossier on substance evaluation; there is also a candidate list of substances of major concern which is updated twice yearly and which currently lists 73 substances. Chapter 2 of the VLK report outlines in detail the current situation regarding REACH Regulation and implementation. It covers all relevant policy levels: European, Belgian and Flemish.
In addition, an evaluation of five years of REACH Regulation is given, providing a comprehensive overview of the benefits and shortcomings. It can be seen that there has been a shift from a purely risk‐based system to a system that is partly based on the intrinsic hazardous properties of a given substance. With regard to implementation, although Belgium is not one of the front runners, it is making significant efforts. However, there are some major shortcomings which are listed in detail, leading to the conclusion that REACH is not taking sufficient account of the precautionary principle and the principle of physical-chemical hygiene.
Chapter 3 features a detailed review and evaluation of the European, Belgian and Flemish policies with regard to plant protection products and biocides. Major steps have been taken with the biggest change being the implementation of the exclusion criteria. At a federal level, a Programme for the Reduction of Pesticides ad Biocides has existed since 2005. This is now being succeeded by the national action plan or NAPAN, required by the European Sustainable Use Directive and which must be reviewed at least every five years.
In the very near future the new regulation for biocides will be published which will replace the current directive. However, the new regulation does have some major shortcomings, according to environmental organisations.
Chapter 4 of the report provides an overview of other major regulations, strategies and policy measures which play a role in the European, Belgian and Flemish policy concerning cancer-related chemicals.
The report’s final chapter expresses some general conclusions and policy proposals, including the need for European protection standards aimed at the actual living circumstances, and introducing as an integral part of cancer policy the avoidance of exposure to cancer-causing elements in the environment.