Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly T.D., today marked the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the workplace smoking ban in Ireland. Since 29th March 2004, smoking is prohibited in most enclosed workplaces under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 (as amended).
“The workplace smoking ban in 2004 was a ground breaking initiative, and it has had a huge impact” the Minister stated, “Recent research found 3, 726 fewer smoking related deaths than would have been expected if the smoking ban had not been brought in. This is indisputable evidence that the ban is saving lives, and improving our overall health as a nation.”
The Minister noted that the cumulative effect of Ireland’s tobacco control legislation to date has been a decrease in the number of people smoking.
“In 2013, the National Tobacco Control Office reported that 21.5% of Irish adults smoked. This represents a decline of 2.2% since 2010, and a decline of 7.5% since 2007 when the last comprehensive large scale study on smoking prevalence in Ireland was undertaken.”
Recent research Stallings-Smith, S, Zeka, A, Goodman, P, Kabir, Z, & Clancy, L (2013). ‘Reductions in Cardiovascular, Cerebrovascular and Respiratory Mortality following the National Irish Smoking Ban: Interrupted Time-Series Analysis’. PLOS One, 8(4). , published only last year, found that the smoking ban was associated with a number of immediate reductions in ill-health in the general population:
· an immediate 13% decrease in all-cause mortality
· a 26% reduction in ischaemic heart disease
· a 32% reduction in stroke, and
· a 38% reduction in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
The workplace ban had a significant impact internationally, with several countries, including the UK, following Ireland’s example. Research in Ireland by the National Tobacco Control Office shows that compliance with the legislation is 97%.
The Minister noted that Ireland is regarded internationally as a leader in the area, ranked second out of 30 European countries in terms of tobacco control, and said
“Ireland has a strong track record in the area of tobacco control policy, and we are actively engaged in building on past successes. I was very pleased that we received approval from Government last November to proceed with the drafting of a Bill that will introduce standardised packaging for tobacco products similar to what is in place in Australia. We are also working towards introducing legislation to prohibit smoking in cars where children are present.”
The Minister noted that Ireland has made good progress on tobacco control policy to date, and reaffirmed his commitment to continue tackling the issue, stating
“Tobacco consumption is the largest avoidable health threat in Ireland; 1 in 2 smokers will die from a tobacco related disease. My priority is to reduce the consumption of tobacco across the board, to meet our policy target of making Ireland tobacco free (i.e. with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by 2025.”