Press Release

New regulations on smoking in the workplace

The Minister for Health and Children today published the Tobacco Smoking (Prohibition) Regulations 2003. The regulations have been made under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002.

The key points of the regulations are as follows:

  • Smoke-free workplaces will be operative from January 26th 2004, almost one year after the initial announcement of the measure.
  • The Smoke-free regulations will apply to all enclosed places of work other than a private dwelling. An amendment to the regulation is being notified to the EU to confirm this.

The Minister said “The primary purpose in introducing this important new health measure is to allow people to work and socialise in clean healthy smoke free environments. No one can be in any doubt that exposure to and inhalation of environmental tobacco smoke is a cause of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. The Expert evidence on the health effects of environmental tobacco smoke in the workplace is clear:

  • Where workplace smoking is permitted the risk of heart disease and cancer is far greater to the employee.
  • Current ventilation technology is ineffective at removing the risk to health.
  • Legislative measures are required.”

Given the unique circumstances pertaining to prisons and places of detention, consultation is ongoing between the relevant agencies with a view to devising a separate measure to reflect these circumstances. A similar provision already exists under the Health and Safety Act 1989 (Section 57), which applies specifically to prisons and places of detention.

A National Implementation Committee has been established involving the Office of Tobacco Control, the Health and Safety Authority, the Environmental Health Officers, Health Board representatives and the Department of Health and Children. This Committee will provide assistance on the implementation of the regulations. Guidance for implementation will be published in November. Public Information campaigns will be carried out in advance of 26 January 2004 to assist, employers, employees and the public in preparation for this new health initiative.

Concluding Minister Martin said, “I believe that this is a measure that will bring significant public health benefits to present and future generations”.