Tobacco Control in the Health Service

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in IreIand with 5,500 smokers dying each year from tobacco related diseases. Moving towards a tobacco free society will reduce the number of premature deaths from tobacco and result in healthier, longer and better quality lives for many Irish people.

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 Ireland.

In response the Tobacco Free Policy Review Group was set up to carry out a fundamental review of health and tobacco and make recommendations to the Minister for Health and Children. Their report, Towards a Tobacco Free Society, (published in 2000) which was adopted as Government policy, proposes an integrated strategy for tackling the tobacco problem and promoting a tobacco free society.

The report outlines four key strategic objectives:

  • To change attitudes
  • To help people give up smoking
  • To protect people from passive smoke (ETS)
  • To focus on children

and recommends a seven tier action plan

  • Better communication and education
  • Specific support for smokers to quit
  • Tougher regulation of the tobacco industry
  • Further protection against ETS (environmental tobacco smoke)
  • Building better compliance with the law
  • Extending ownership
  • International co-operation

There is a co-ordinated tobacco control programme in the HSE, with responsibility for discharging the statutory functions prescribed under the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002-2012 and supporting and driving the delivery of the 61 actions in the Tobacco Control Framework 2010.

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