Press Release

Minister O´Malley welcomes the opening of the Conference on Future Directions in Tobacco Control in the EU

Mr Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today (17th June 2004) welcomed the opening of the EU Conference on Future Directions in Tobacco Control which takes place in the Radisson SAS in Limerick from 17th – 18th June.  The Minister stated “I am delighted to attend this prestigious EU conference being held here in Limerick.  Smoking prevention and tobacco control are priority objectives in the public health policies in the EU and I welcome the opportunity we have here today to review the progress which has been made in recent years and to lay down markers for future direction.”

The aim of this conference is to review tobacco control policies in the EU and to facilitate the exchange of views and experiences including research and best practice among European countries in the field of tobacco control.  Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the European Union.  Tobacco consumption shortens lives, harms others and is a huge cost to the taxpayer in terms of health services. Cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of death of men and women in the European Union and tobacco is a significant factor in this and other diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

On average, smokers lose about fifteen years of life through premature death from tobacco related illnesses.  A recent report from the World Health Organisation states that, of the 1.3 billion smokers worldwide, 84% live in developing countries.  In Irelandwe have made significant progress in reducing the prevalence of smoking in our population.  From a base of 31% in 1998, our health and lifestyle survey published in 2002, SLÁN, highlights a drop to a current smoking prevalence level of 27%.

Minister O´Malley stated “Effective tobacco control measures and sustained responses are required to curb tobacco related deaths and illnesses, to reduce the numbers of people smoking, to protect people from second-hand smoke and to improve the health and quality of life of our population.  We must ensure that the measures we put in place are effective in reducing the burden of death and disease caused by tobacco consumption.  As we draw towards the end of the Irish Presidency, we hope that the Conference proceedings will be beneficial and informative to all participants and make a positive contribution to the development of tobacco control policy in the EU.”