Sunday, 17th December 2017
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The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, and Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drug Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, have both welcomed the publication of the 2016 Annual Report on the Tobacco Free IrelandAction Plan.

Tobacco Free Irelandwas launched under the Healthy Ireland framework in 2013 and sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free (that is, with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by the year 2025.

A high level action plan for Tobacco Free Ireland was published in March 2015 and one of these actions committed the Department of Health to publish an annual report on the implementation of the actions outlined. The 2016 Annual Report outlines a number of key achievements in 2016, including new legislation banning smoking in cars when children are present (which came into force on the 1st Jan 2016) and the development by the HSE of the QUIT campaign and the enhancement of supports for smokers who wish to stop smoking.

Minister Harris said, "Smoking is the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland, killing almost 6,000 people a year. On a positive note we have seen a significant and continued reduction in smoking prevalence in children, which tells us that we are on the right track in how we are tackling that part of the problem. It is heartening to see the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe using the actions set out in Tobacco Free Ireland as a case study for other countries who wish to get to a tobacco free future. Unfortunately smoking prevalence amongst adults still remains unacceptably high – 22% of the population are current smokers, 18% smoke daily and 4% smoke occasionally. These figures underscore the need to implement all the recommendations in Tobacco Free Ireland.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of the rollout of standardised packaging measures for all tobacco products. Ireland is the only country in Europe and second in the world to introduce standardised packaging for all tobacco products and not just cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. All tobacco products are harmful and as such all tobacco products must comply with the standardised packaging measures”.

Minister Byrne said, "Most people who smoke wish they had never started smoking and want to stop, for themselves and for their families. That is why we must continue to prioritise and enhance the supports and encouragement people need to quit smoking once and for all and to never take up the habit in the first place.”

Minister Byrne stated that "All of the achievements under Tobacco Free Ireland will help us in our goal of making Ireland tobacco free by 2025.

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