Promoting a tobacco free society

International smoke-free zones

International smoke-free zones

Ireland was the first country in the world to introduce a complete prohibition on smoking in workplaces to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.  The smoke-free workplace legislation came into effect on March 29, 2004 and since then, pubs, bars, restaurants, shops, factories, offices and other enclosed workplaces are smoke-free. 

Ireland’s introduction of this legislation is universally recognised as a major success and is part of a worldwide movement to protect public health from this serious hazard. Many countries, individual states and local authorities have now introduced comprehensive prohibitions on smoking in public places.

The International picture….

Protection from Environmental Tobacco Smoke through legislation with comprehensive smoking bans (including those in restaurants and bars with smoking areas being completely prohibited) are now adopted:

  • In fourteen countries - Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Bhutan, Scotland, Uruguay, Lithuania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Slovenia, Denmark, England and France;
  • Fourteen US States and the District of Columbia;
  • Eleven out of sixteen German States;
  • Two Canadian Territories and eight Provinces;  
  • All Australian States, except for the Northern Territory, and
  • Bermuda, Guernsey and Puerto Rico.

Other nations have implemented laws that provide significant protection. These include Italy, Sweden and Malta, while Turkey has passed a law prohibiting smoking in public places, it will be implemented in full after the President has signed it into law. 

World Health Organisation – Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

On 21st May 2003, 192 countries unanimously adopted a legally binding treaty called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This treaty expresses the unanimous political consensus throughout the world that passive smoking causes diseases. The FCTC obliges governments to protect third parties from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). This is the first international treaty ever to be negotiated by the World Health Organisation, the United Nations’ principal health agency.

The treaty entered into force on 27 February 2005 following its ratification by 40 countries.  In November 2005, Ireland became the 101st country to ratify the treaty. To date, a total of 148 countries have formally ratified the treaty. 

The aim of the FCTC is ‘to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke by providing a framework for tobacco control measures.

Further details on FCTC can be found at:

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