Press Release

Minister Harris and Minister Byrne mark No World Tobacco Day and publish 2018 Annual Report of Tobacco Free Ireland Action Plan

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne have today (Friday) marked World No Tobacco Day by welcoming the publication of the 2018 Annual Report on the Tobacco Free Ireland Action Plan.

Tobacco Free Ireland was launched under the Healthy Ireland framework in 2013 and sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free (that is, with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by the year 2025.

A high-level action plan for Tobacco Free Ireland was published in March 2015 and one of these actions committed the Department of Health to publish an annual report on the implementation of the plan.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said, “Ireland continues to play a proactive role in the global fight against the burden of tobacco use. In recognition of this role, Ireland has been chosen as the host of the next World Conference on Tobacco or Health in 2021, the premier conference on tobacco related issues.

“One of the strengths of Tobacco Free Ireland is its collaborative approach across governmental and non-governmental sectors to tackle tobacco use and the results of that collaboration are evident in the progress made across all the recommendations in Tobacco Free Ireland.

“We continue to make steady progress in the fight against tobacco consumption, but we still have significant work to do. I believe working with our European colleagues will help us in this regard and assist us in making a real and substantive change to the health and wellbeing of the country.”

Minister Byrne commented; “I welcome the progress made in 2018 in implementing the recommendations of Tobacco Free Ireland. There are now approximately 80,000 fewer smokers in Ireland than there were three years ago which is very encouraging.

“Under Healthy Ireland we are seeing fantastic partnership between Government, statutory agencies and community organisations, all working to change social norms around smoking and to highlight the health benefits of quitting. Community-based projects in particular play an important role in supporting people to quit smoking and are to be commended for their contribution to the continued decrease in smoking rates.”

The 2018 Annual Report outlines several key achievements in 2018, including:

• the successful bid to host the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in 2021,

• proactive involvement in ensuring the public-private partnership between the International Labour Organisation and the tobacco industry were not renewed,

• the establishment of a multidisciplinary guideline development group to develop national clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of tobacco addiction,

• engagement with the Central Statistics Office in relation to the inclusion of a question on smoking in Census 2021, and

• the increase in price and minimum excise duty on tobacco products in Budget 2019.