March marked the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the workplace smoking ban in Ireland. Since 29th March 2004, smoking is prohibited in most enclosed workplaces under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002.

no smokingThe workplace ban had a significant impact internationally, with several countries, including the UK, following Ireland’s example.

Research in Ireland by the National Tobacco Control Office shows that compliance with the legislation is 97%.

The Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly T.D noted that Ireland is regarded internationally as a leader in the area, ranked second out of 30 European countries in terms of tobacco control.

He said, “Ireland has a strong track record in the area of tobacco control policy, and we are actively engaged in building on past successes. I was very pleased that we received approval from Government last November to proceed with the drafting of a Bill that will introduce standardised packaging for tobacco products similar to what is in place in Australia. We are also working towards introducing legislation to prohibit smoking in cars where children are present.”
Research published only last year, found that the smoking ban was associated with a number of immediate reductions in ill-health in the general population:
· an immediate 13% decrease in all-cause mortality
· a 26% reduction in ischaemic heart disease
· a 32% reduction in stroke, and
· a 38% reduction in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation said, “The rapid reduction in heart attacks after the introduction of the workplace smoking ban may be surprising to the general public but it makes sense when we consider the immediate effect tobacco smoke has on the body. The poisons in smoke pose a danger right away. Sudden blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes can be triggered by tobacco smoke. This means that just sitting in a smoke-filled bar would raise a person’s chances of a heart attack. The reduction in heart attack admissions here shows that Ireland’s courageous move as the first country to have a comprehensive smoking ban led to a vast improvement in the nation’s heart health.”
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