Press Release

Minister Martin hears students’ concerns about smoking on the eve of World No Tobacco Day

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D. today (30 May, 2001) met students from the Convent of Mercy, Roscommon who have just completed a research project on cigarettes and teenagers. The students voiced their concerns about smoking to the Minister and outlined what they feel should be done to reduce and prevent the harm that tobacco is causing.

The students from Convent of Mercy, Roscommon have just completed on-the-ground research to test the ease with which under-16s could purchase cigarettes. While it is illegal to sell tobacco products to minors, the students found that teenagers in the Roscommon and East Galway area have little problem in buying cigarettes.

The Minister was encouraged by the students´ example when he met them today at Leinster House. “These students are making their voices heard. They are getting directly involved; they are not only arming themselves with the facts but also drawing our attention to the need to redouble our efforts to combat smoking. Their work and research gives us an insight into the constant battle teenagers have to face against tobacco. We are already concerned about the increase in smoking among young women”, said Minister Martin.

On completion of their project, the students of Class 2D, Convent of Mercy, Roscommon felt that more preventive measures are needed to combat underage smoking.

Surveys show that in Ireland more than two thirds of all children have experimented with tobacco before they reach adulthood. This leads to almost 7,000 deaths per year and immeasurable health damage and suffering.

“All the students involved in the project and indeed in our school have become more aware of the risks of smoking to our health as well as the ageing effects on our appearance. We feel that more measures need to be taken to protect young people from tobacco”, said Grace Gormley, one of the students.

The students also got a chance to see at first hand the work that environmental health officers are doing to protect young people from tobacco. “Both the students and teachers felt a great sense of involvement and achievement. I would encourage other schools to get involved in similar projects with their local Health Boards” stated Teresa Hession, CSPE teacher.

World No Tobacco Day

This year´s goal for World No Tobacco Day is to raise awareness of the health hazards of exposure to second-hand or passive smoke and to promote widespread action to reduce exposure.

The Minister also took the opportunity to launch a new leaflet entitled “Passive smoking – let´s clear the air” produced by the Smoking Target Action Group. The leaflet is available nationwide from Health Boards, the Office of Tobacco Control, Irish Cancer Society, Irish Heart Foundation and ASH Ireland.