800,000 fewer smokers in Ireland since 2004 smoking ban

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has said there are 800,000 fewer smokers in Ireland today than there were in 2004, and more supports for those seeking to quit.

Tomorrow will mark 20 years since Ireland became the first country in the world to prohibit smoking in indoor public places, including pubs, restaurants and other workplaces.

Some 74 counties have followed Ireland’s example, which has seen smoking rates here reduce from 27% in 2004 to 18% now.

Martina Blake, the HSE’s lead for the Tobacco Free Ireland programme, said Ireland was considered a world leader in tobacco control at the time.

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Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Ms Blake said the ban had a “significant impact” in terms of reducing the number of smokers and protecting the health of employees in the workplace.

She said there “absolutely” is a need to move in the direction of a tobacco-free Ireland, but “we’re a long way off achieving that”.

“We definitely have lots more to do in order to get to a tobacco-free Ireland and we would encourage ministers in our Government to think about new and progressive tobacco control policies and to try and move that agenda forward,” she said.

Read more: What Ireland’s smoking ban 20 years on shows us about human behaviour

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