Ireland aims to be tobacco-free by 2025

A new tobacco-control policy, Tobacco Free Ireland, was launched by the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, on 3 October 2013. A tobacco-free Ireland, as defined in the policy, would be one in which less than 5% of the population smokes (down from the 22% of those aged 15 and over who are currently regular smokers). The policy makes some 60 recommendations, with the overall aim of de-normalizing smoking in Irish society. As Dr Reilly says in the foreword to the policy: “It is clear from international evidence that the most effective tobacco control strategies involve taking a multi-faceted approach. Tobacco Free Ireland contains a suite of measures based on this evidence”.

Specifically, the policy sets out measures to:

• protect children from the harms of tobacco;
• enforce, regulate and legislate for tobacco activities and products;
• educate citizens about the dangers of tobacco;
• assist those who smoke to stop.

At the launch event, Dr Reilly said that “to make Ireland tobacco free in 12 years is an extraordinary challenge, but if we work together to denormalize smoking for young people we can do it”. He added that “protecting children from the harms of tobacco is the key aim” of the policy.

Dr Haik Nikogosian, Head of the Convention Secretariat, who participated in the launch, noted that the plan was a “bold example” of Ireland’s “strong leadership” on tobacco measures over many years.