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Office Of Tobacco Control annual report shows compliance with smoke- free workplace legislation at highest ever level

Office of Tobacco Control believes July 1st removal of point of sale advertising is as significant as smoke-free legislation

The Office of Tobacco Control's (OTC) 2008 Annual Report shows the compliance level with the smoke-free workplace legislation is 97%. This is the highest level of annual compliance since the introduction of the measure in 2004.

Published today (Monday, June 22nd), the report shows that in relation to smoke-free workplace legislation:
- 97% of workplaces were compliant in 2008, based on the results of the National Tobacco Control Inspection Programme in co-operation with the HSE;
- 25,350 inspections were carried out by Environmental Health Officers (EHOs);
- 24 cases for offences under the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts were brought in 2008. These cases resulted in 19 convictions while the Probation of Offenders Act was applied in six cases;
- 562 calls were made to the Smoke-Free Compliance Line.

In relation to compliance with sales to minors legislation, the 2008 report highlighted that:

- 690 test purchase inspections were conducted by EHOs;
- There were 23 cases taken for sales to minors offences, resulting in 19 convictions.

Speaking on the report, Éamonn Rossi, OTC Chief Executive said the 97% compliance level demonstrated the huge success of smoke-free workplaces and showed the strong public support for measures to protect the public from the serious ill effects of smoking.

"Five years after its introduction, we are delighted with how workplaces and the public continue to support this public health 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."

In addition, Mr Rossi highlighted the key role played by EHOs in maintaining the high levels of compliance and stressed the importance, where necessary, of active enforcement.

Removal of point of sale advertising is as significant as smoke-free legislation

Mr. Rossi also stated that during 2008, much of the Office's work was directed towards tackling the issue of children and smoking and, in particular, preparing for the commencement on July 1 2009 of further provisions of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts.

"The announcement by the Minister of State at the Department of Health & Children in July 2008 of the commencement of further tobacco control legislation was hugely significant. Indeed, this legislation is in many ways just as important as smoke-free workplaces. This is because the imminent removal of retail tobacco advertising and product display is key to the goal of reducing the numbers of young people starting to smoke. Instore advertising and extensive product displays helps tobacco to appear as a familiar, acceptable and normal retail product. This situation contributes to the belief common among youth that "everyone" smokes. As a result, research shows that children are more likely to start smoking themselves."

Mr Rossi added that in March 2008, the Office published research examining the tobacco retail environment. This report focused on the implementation of sales to minors legislation, the extent of tobacco advertising at point-of-sale and public attitudes towards tobacco advertising.

The OTC's Chairperson, Ms Norma Cronin, said the measures being introduced on 1 July, which also include the introduction of a national register of tobacco retailers as well as tighter controls on the location and operation of tobacco vending machines, are of critical importance. She noted that, as demonstrated by the retail research report, the new provisions enjoy widespread public support.

"The OTC report Tobacco Control and the Irish Retail Environment showed that 92% of stores visited had some form of tobacco advertising on display. Almost half of these stores displayed tobacco products beside confectionery. The Irish public recognises the significance of such promotion with almost
80% of survey respondents supporting a complete ban on all tobacco advertising in stores to prevent young people from starting to smoke."

Ms Cronin concluded that despite the strong legislative response to tobacco control in Ireland, complacency must be avoided.

"Over 6,000 people die each year in Ireland from a smoking related disease. While smoke-free workplaces, and the removal of tobacco point-of-sale advertising, places Ireland to the forefront internationally in the fight against the tobacco epidemic, we cannot become complacent. All of us involved in tobacco control must continue to work together towards the shared vision of a tobacco free society."

 

Public Health (Tobacco) Acts
Further provisions of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002 and 2004 are to be commenced on 1 July 2009.

The key provisions being commenced are:

- A ban on all in-store/point-of-sale advertising of tobacco products,
- A ban on 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,
- The introduction of a retail register for tobacco retailers.

From that date, no advertising or display of tobacco products will be permitted in retail outlets and self-service vending machines will be permitted in licensed premises or registered clubs only.

A guidance document, which provides retailers of tobacco products with the information necessary to comply with the measures being introduced, is available from http://www.otc.ie/uploads/English-Guidance-Docs.pdf.

The OTC is also operating a lo-call information line - 1890 333 100 - for those who may have questions about the provisions being commenced.

Download 2008 Annual Report.

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