Ireland’s health minister has outlined plans for a “tobacco-free” country by 2025.
Dr James Reilly’s proposals contain 60 recommendations to significantly reduce smoking over the next 12 years. He defines a “tobacco-free” Ireland as one where less than five per cent of the population smoke.
According to the Department of Health, the aim of the new policy is to de-normalise tobacco use in Irish society. Efforts to meet this end would include greater restrictions on the types of outlets where tobacco products could be sold, and the possibility of tax increases on tobacco to be applied over five years.
In 2004, Ireland became the first state to introduce a total ban on smoking in the work place, and included pubs and clubs in the law. Figures show that 22 per cent of people aged 15 and above still regularly smoke.
Dr Reilly said: “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland,” but also admitted his vision for a “tobacco-free” Ireland “is an extraordinary challenge”.
His plans have drawn criticism from Ireland’s smokers’ group Forest Éireann. A group spokesman labelled the health minister’s ideas “morally wrong” and said the policy would result in “stigmatising consumers of a legal product enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of adults throughout the country”.
“De-normalising tobacco will drive people to the black market and the fringes of society,” he added.
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