May. 10 2006
Washington, DC — Today the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids presented the Republic of Ireland with its Champion Award for the country’s leadership in the fight against tobacco use. In March 2004, Ireland became the first country to implement a nationwide law requiring that all indoor workplaces and public places be smoke-free, including restaurants and pubs.
Mary Harney, Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland and Minister of Health and Children, accepted the award at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ annual gala dinner in Washington, DC. Ireland was honored along with the winners of the Campaign’s Youth Advocates of the Year Awards, an annual competition that honors young people who have been leaders in the fight against tobacco use.
“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids honors Ireland for its courage, leadership and example in becoming the world’s first smoke-free country protecting everyone’s right to breathe clean air,” said Campaign President Matthew L. Myers. “Ireland has spurred other countries, regions and communities to pass strong smoke-free workplace laws and protect their citizens from the death and disease caused by tobacco. As a result, Ireland’s courageous leaders are saving lives and improving health, not only in their own country, but around the world.”
Other countries that have since enacted strong smoke-free workplace laws include England, Scotland, Uruguay, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, Bhutan and Bermuda. In the United States, 14 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and hundreds of cities and counties have enacted such laws.
Contrary to predictions that the Irish smoke-free law would harm pub and restaurant business, the Irish hospitality industry is thriving. Contrary to predictions that the Irish smoke-free law would harm pub and restaurant business, the Irish hospitality industry is thriving. Recent data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office reveal that two years after the law was enacted, bar sales and employment in the hospitality industry are increasing and Irish tourism continues to grow.
The smoke-free law is also wildly popular with the Irish public. A study released in March 2005 by the Office of Tobacco Control in Ireland found that 96 percent of the Irish public felt that the law was a success and 93 percent thought that the law was a good idea. The study also showed that exposure to secondhand smoke declined significantly, and respiratory health improved among bar staff in Ireland after the smoke-free law took effect, compared to a comparison group of bar staff in Northern Ireland.
More than 400 government, public health, political, civic and business leaders attended the Campaign’s tenth annual gala to recognize Ireland and the young leaders.