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Compliance Remains High as Smoke-Free Workplace Marks Five Years

Compliance with the ban on smoking in the workplace remains high as the introduction of the measure marks five years today.

Since the introduction of the smoke-free workplace legislation on March 29 2004, compliance has never fallen below 94%. The most recent figures which are for 2008 show compliance at its highest ever level of 97%.

Office of Tobacco Control, Chief Executive, Éamonn Rossi, said the implementation of the legislation had been highly successful and showed strong public support for measures to protect the public from the serious illeffects of smoking.

“We are pleased with how workplaces and the public have supported the measure. The introduction of the legislation can without doubt be called a success and we must now carry that success forward and continue to be a world leader in tobacco control.”

The General Secretary of Mandate Trade Union, which represents bar and retail workers, John Douglas, also commended the health measure as a success and said it continued to have strong support from Mandate and its membership.

“Bar workers have now had five years of working in an environment that is tobacco free. The success of smoke free workplaces provides an excellent example of how Unions can play a social role in supporting the health and welfare of its members,” he said.

Further Measures Need to Protect Children

Éamonn Rossi said the key next step was to now focus on measures to protect young people by discouraging them from taking up smoking in the first place. To support this aim, point of sale advertising of tobacco products in retail premises is due to be removed from July 1, 2009.

This will include a ban on: branding backdrops in shops and change mats on counters, the display of tobacco products in retail premises, the introduction of a closed container / dispenser provision, tighter controls on the location and operation of tobacco vending machines and the introduction of a register of retail outlets who are licensed to sell tobacco.

Marking the five year anniversary of smoke free workplaces, The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) encouraged retailers to prepare for 1 July 2009 deadline. NYCI Director, Mary Cunningham said this was a very important long term measure to help reduce the numbers of young people taking up smoking.

“More than three-quarters of all smokers in Ireland start to smoke before they reach the age of 18. The advertising and display of tobacco products in a very familiar place – the local shop used by young people several times a week – seeks to make cigarettes part of children’s normal social environment. 

“There is compelling evidence from research that children are influenced by this form of advertising. In this context, it’s worth noting that 80% of child smokers in Ireland smoke just two brands, the brands which happen to be the two most heavily marketed through the use of in-store displays.”

Ms. Cunningham added that there is also strong public support for this measure. “Eighty-seven per cent of the public support a ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and communication as a means of discouraging young people from smoking.”

Further Information
Ronan Cavanagh, Montague Communications: (01) 830 3116 or (086) 317 9731.

Background Information

1 year after the introduction of the legislation on 29 March 2004, 94% of premises inspected were found to be compliant with Section 47 (workplace smoking prohibition) of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts. In the fives years since the introduction of smoke-free workplaces, compliance levels have never fallen below this consistently high range.

2004 – 94%
2005 – 95%
2006 – 95%
2007 – 95%
2008 – 97%

• Compliance nationally with the law continues to be very high showing the continued strong public support and commitment to the law from non-smokers and smokers alike;

• Compliance in the hospitality sector is also remaining at a very high level, demonstrating the collective commitment and co-operation of owners, managers and workers to ensuring such workplaces remain smoke-free;

• The key benefits of smoke-free laws are being achieved in that people can work and socialise in environments free from the serious adverse health effects of second-hand smoke.

2008 Research

In December 2008, the Office of Tobacco Control reviewed the public’s experience of smoke-free legislation introduced in 2004. The survey was conducted by TNS mrbi using Phonebus® from a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people. The findings highlight that:
• 96% of all indoor workers report that their work environment is “not smoky”;
• 96% of people surveyed who had recently visited a bar or pub confirmed the atmosphere in the venue was “not smoky”.

International Situation

• On 29 March 2004, the Republic of Ireland became the first country to ban smoking in all indoor workplaces, including in restaurants and bars. Since then, other countries and territories who have enacted comprehensive smoke-free workplace legislation include Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Norway, New Zealand, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Bhutan as well as Hong Kong, Bermuda and Guernsey. 

• Other nations have implemented laws that provide significant protection but allow smoking rooms in some restaurants or bars, or in establishments of a certain size. Such countries include Italy, Sweden, Malta, Denmark, Portugal, Finland, France, Holland and Romania.

• While there is no federal policy in the United States, 17 states are currently recognised as smoke-free, with the number increasing steadily. California enacted the first state ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in 1998. In addition, most of Australia and Canada are currently covered by smoke-free laws in indoor public places.



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