Press Release

Tánaiste accepts prestigious Champion Award for Ireland for smoke-free workplace legislation

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health & Children, Ms. Mary Harney, T.D., has today (10 May 2006) accepted a prestigious award for Ireland in recognition of Ireland’s leadership in introducing smoke-free workplaces legislation.

The Champion Award for Ireland was presented to the Tánaiste by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids at its 10th Anniversary Youth Advocates of the Year Awards Gala in Washington, DC.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a privately funded U.S. organisation that works to reduce tobacco use among children and to create a healthier smoke-free environment. The Youth Advocates of the Year Awards is an annual competition that honours young people who have made outstanding contributions to tobacco prevention.

Past Champion Award recipients have primarily been elected officials from throughout the United States who have been strong advocates for tobacco control issues however this year the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has honoured Ireland for its leadership and political courage in introducing smoke-free workplaces legislation in March 2004.

Speaking in Washington, DC, the Tánaiste said she was honoured to accept the Champion Award on behalf of all those who supported, participated and assisted in the introduction and continuing success of Ireland’s Smoke Free at Work Initiative.

“The response from all sectors to this historic measure continues to be very positive with compliance levels very high at 95%, reflecting the goodwill and overwhelming support that exists for a clean smoke-free environment in the workplace. The introduction of this legislation has resulted in a marked improvement in air quality in enclosed public places such as pubs and bars” said the Tánaiste.

Since the introduction of the Smoke Free at Work Initiative over two years ago Ireland has received a number of international awards in recognition of this public health measure. The American Cancer Society recently announced that the Department of Health and Children will receive a Luther L. Terry Award for Exemplary Leadership by a Government Ministry later this year. The Luther L. Terry awards recognize outstanding worldwide achievement in the field of tobacco control and will be presented during a special ceremony on 14 July in Washington, DC, as part of the 13th World Conference on Tobacco or Health.