Ireland will become tobacco free by 2025, with less than 5% of population smoking, says government official, who publishes 60 recommendations designed to reduce tobacco addiction and significantly cut down on number of people who smoke

October 4, 2013 () – Ireland has become the latest country to pledge to become "tobacco-free", as its health authorities yesterday announced a crackdown on places where cigarettes can be sold.

Dr James Reilly, the Irish Health Minister, said it would become free of tobacco by 2025 - with less than 5 per cent of the population smoking. He published 60 recommendations to reduce tobacco addiction and signifi-cantly cut the number of people who smoke. Today, some 22 per cent of people over 15 regularly smoke cigarettes in the Republic.

Included in the proposals are plans to introduce a ban on smoking in cars where children are present and hand out spot fines for breaches in smoking laws. It advocates a ban on all selfserving cigarette vending machines and greater regulation on retailers as part of the so-called "de-normalisation" of tobacco in Ireland.

Ireland was the first country, in 2004, to outlaw smoking in the workplace.

"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland," said Dr Reilly. "Each year at least 5,200 people die from diseases caused by tobacco use."

But a spokesman for the smokers' group Forest Éireann told the Irish broadcaster RTÉ it was "morally wrong to de-normalise smoking". He said the plans would stigmatise "consumers of a legal product enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of adults throughout the country".

"Smokers contribute a huge amount of money to the government through tobacco taxation," he added.

Ireland's proposals are just the latest in a worldwide effort to stop smoking. In 2011 the Brazilian government enacted laws that required all workplaces and public places to be smoke-free, and banned all tobacco advertising at the point of sale.

Last year, New Zealand's efforts to go smoke-free saw a 40 per cent rise in taxes on tobacco products introduced, with cigarette prices hiked to £9 per pack.

But efforts in Britain to introduce plain packaging laws and outlaw tobacco companies' branding have failed. Last July, David Cameron sparked widespread criticism when he shelved plain packaging proposals.

Now cross-party peers and MPs plan to revive the proposals and put the legislation back on the statute book before the next election in 2015.

The tiny South Asian country of Bhutan has led the world in anti-smoking regulations. It banned the sale of tobacco in 2005 and in 2011 began raiding those suspected of smuggling or selling it.

(c) 2013 Independent News and Media Limited

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