LUXEMBOURG-The European Commission has selected Grayling to oversee a bumper anti-tobacco PR brief aimed at young adults.

The Holmes Report understands that Grayling is one of a consortium of agencies to secure the multi-million euro contract, following a tender that began earlier this year. Grayling's fees alone are estimated at €4m, for a campaign that will cover the 27 EU member states and last for three years.

The programme is overseen by the EC Directorate General for Health & Consumers (SANCO), which previously ran the HELP anti-tobacco campaign over the past six years. That campaign ended with the termination of the ‘Community Tobacco Fund’ - tobacco subsidies that helped fund the drive - last year.

While the number of smokers in the European Union has been decreasing, it is estimated that one third of Europeans still smoke. SANCO believes that the economic loss to member states caused by smoking amounted to €100m in 2010. Tobacco is also the single largest cause of avoidable death in the EU, accounting for around 650.000 premature deaths each year.

Last year, the European Commission began a new public consultation to revise its tobacco products directive. At the time EU Health Commissioner John Dalli said: “I am particularly concerned with the 35 percent of young Europeans who smoke.”

In recent years, new anti-smoking laws have been implemented in several EU member states, with Britain and Ireland adopting the strictest regulations. Currently, 10 EU countries have comprehensive smoke-free laws in place, after the European Commission adopted a proposal for smoke-free public environments in 2009.

According to the tender document, Grayling will be charged with devising an overarching communication campaign, with other firms handling such components as digital and advertising - specifically targeting young adults. The contract win follows the agency’s hire of Katarina De Meulder last year to oversee its European public policy work.

Grayling representatives declined to comment.