Press Release

World No Tobacco Day 2009

Today(Sunday 31st May, 2009) marks World No Tobacco Day where the theme is “Tobacco Health Warnings”. These appear on packs of cigarettes and are a powerful way of communicating the health risk of tobacco.

“We should not get complacent about tobacco”, Áine Brady, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Older People and Health Promotion said today. “Every year in Ireland, smoking is responsible for over 6,500 deaths. It is a huge burden for individuals, their families and the healthcare system. Recent lifestyle surveys clearly show that the level of smoking in adults is not reducing and that it has increased in young adults, especially amongst girls.”

The Minister added, “Ireland has been amongst the leading countries to take measures to eliminate tobacco use from our society. We were one of the first countries to introduce restrictions on tobacco advertising and sponsorship and led the world in its “Smoke Free at Work” initiative which serves as a model for other countries.”

The Minister for Health and Children will commence legislation on 1 July 2009 that prohibits advertising and display of tobacco products in all premises that sell tobacco products to the public. From 1 July 2009, self-service vending machines will be prohibited except in licensed premises and registered clubs and must be operated in accordance with Regulations. In addition all retailers of tobacco products must register with the Office of Tobacco Control. Further legislation is planned which will allow the Minister to make regulations for the introduction of combined text and photo warnings on tobacco products, as recommended by the European Commission

Speaking on World Tobacco Day, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan added “ Half of all smokers will die from smoking related diseases and these deaths are preventable. Smoking reduces life expectancy by an average of 10-15 years. We know that pictorial health warnings are very effective and are overwhelmingly supported by the public. On this day, I would like to remind people that measures to protect young people are particularly important as we do not want a new generation of smokers to face into a lifelong pattern of poor health and early death”.