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Friday 2 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images
# Smoking
‘Vast majority of smokers want to quit’ claims Reilly as No Tobacco Day marked
The Minister underlined his commitment to reduce the number of young people taking up smoking as the World Health Organisation’s No Tobacco Day is marked.

THE MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has said that the vast majority of smokers want to quit and reiterated his determination to reduce the number of young people who start smoking as World No Tobacco Day is marked today.

The World Health Organisation is marking the day as the Minister said that Ireland is committed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which aims to curb the power of lobbyists from the tobacco industry.

An EU survey on attitudes to tobacco published yesterday found that 28 per cent of citizens aged 15 and over smoke while 70 per cent smokers and ex-smokers took up the habit before they turned 18.

Reilly said today: “During my term as Minister for Health I am committed to working to reduce the number of young people who start the seriously damaging habit of smoking.

“I also believe that the vast majority of smokers want to quit and to assist them in achieving this life changing target I want to improve the services available to those who require support.”

The framework outlines obligations on government which are intended to protect public health policies from being influenced by commercial and other vested interests from the tobacco industry.

But the Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society have said that the State’s failure to adhere to key sections of the the convention are hampering efforts to cut the number of smoking-related deaths in Ireland, believed to be around 5,200 annually.

“For years the tobacco industry across the world has marketed its killer products to children, deceived the public about the harmful effects of tobacco use and fought policies designed to reduce tobacco use and save lives,” said Michael O’Shea, the Irish Heart Foundation CEO.

“That is why Ireland signed the treaty, but outside the Department of Health awareness of this convention within Government is extremely low.

“As a result the industry has been able to influence Government on a multiplicity of non-regulatory issues, as well as lobbying individual TDs and Senators through public affairs companies and organisations it finances, such as Retailers Against Smuggling and Forest Eireann.

“We believe this is reducing the power of those working in Government to save lives by reducing smoking rates.”

The Department of Health said that Minister Reilly has been extremely critical of the tobacco industry. He recently backed attempts to implement a smoking ban in cars when children are present.

Reilly said that the tobacco industry “continuously tries to undermine” the framework and said that he was writing to his colleagues in government to remind them of their obligations.

“I have asked them to ensure that members of their Departments and organisations under their remit are very much aware of their obligations under the framework,” Reilly said.

Meanwhile, the EU survey published European Commission also found that 60 per cent of EU citizens support measures to make tobacco less visible and attractive by, for example, keeping it out of sight in shops and curbing the use of flavours and colours.

Column: Smoking ban in public places ‘a departure from tolerance and democracy’

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