Promoting a tobacco free society



In November 1999, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children published A National Anti-Smoking Strategy – A Report on Health and Smoking which recommended that a national anti-tobacco strategy be adopted.

In response, the Tobacco Free Policy Review Group was set up to carry out a fundamental review of health and tobacco and to make recommendations to the Minister for Health and Children. Their report Towards a Tobacco Free Society was published in 2000 and was adopted as Government policy.

Against this background, the Smoke Free at Work initiative was introduced five years ago (29 March 2004). The primary purpose of this measure is to protect the health of workers and the public from exposure to toxic environmental tobacco smoke.

Tobacco use causes the premature deaths of over 6,500 Irish people every year. Thousands of others become ill from tobacco-related diseases. The aim of the measures now being introduced is to protect the public from exposure to advertising that serves to normalise tobacco products, particularly among young people. Removing advertising will also support adults who are trying to quit.

Research shows that tobacco advertising is a key factor in a young person starting and continuing to smoke. The location of prominent tobacco displays in retail outlets, in itself, plays a role in promoting tobacco consumption. This placement of tobacco in close proximity to everyday consumer goods, such as newspapers and sweets, helps tobacco to be seen as another benign consumer product. Research has shown that 78% of Irish smokers started smoking before they reached the age of 18, evidence that smoking initiation is largely a childhood and teenage phenomenon.  If the decision whether or not to smoke can be delayed until adulthood, over time, the numbers of people both becoming addicted to smoking and suffering smoking related illnesses can be significantly reduced. 

It should be noted that ‘advertising’ is very broadly defined and includes every form of recommendation of the product to the public including a statement of the name of a manufacturer, importer or brand of tobacco product, or a display or other publication of a trademark, emblem, marketing image or logo, by reference to which the product is marketed or sold.

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