Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, and Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD, today welcomed the publication of the 2019 Tobacco Free Ireland Annual Report.

Tobacco Free Ireland is Ireland’s national tobacco control policy and sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free (a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by the year 2025. A high-level action plan for Tobacco Free Ireland was published in March 2015 and each year the Department of Health reports on the ongoing implementation of the plan.

The 2019 Annual Report outlines several key achievements in 2019, including:

  • The Government approved the drafting of a Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill to further advance Tobacco Free Ireland recommendations.
  • The Census Advisory Group recommended the inclusion of a question on smoking status in the 2021 national Census and the Government agreed. The inclusion of the question means that, for the first time, detailed information on smoking status at a national level will be available to inform current and future tobacco control policy.
  • Supported by the HSE, Sports Ireland launched its Smoke Free Campus on National No Smoking Day. Smoking is now prohibited outside all buildings on the Sport Ireland Campus, including the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre and Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena.

Minister Donnelly said:

Tobacco Free Ireland sets a target for Ireland to have a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5% by 2025. We are making great progress toward that target, but I ask anyone that is thinking about quitting to act now. There is evidence that smokers are at a higher risk of complications with COVID-19 infection and are more likely to have a more severe outcome from the disease compared with non-smokers so there has never been a better time to take that first step to a smoke-free life. The HSE QUIT service is there to help.”

Minister Feighan said:

One of the best things we can do for the health of our children is to let them grow up in a smoke-free world. Our Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill will ban the sale of tobacco products at places or events that are intended for children. We are also banning the sale of e-cigarettes to children. The recent Health Research Board evidence review on e-cigarettes found an association between e-cigarette use and later smoking in adolescents. I am determined to do what I can to ensure that our children don’t start smoking and can live their lives free of this addictive and lethal product.

Successes such as the ‘Not Around Us’ campaign in Limerick in promoting tobacco free environments and the introduction of a smoke free campus by Sport Ireland show how local actions can play a large part in making Ireland tobacco free. These community-based projects also play an important role in supporting people to quit smoking and are to be commended for their contribution to the continued decrease in smoking rates.

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