A total ban on the sale of tobacco and a sharp reduction in the number of outlets authorized to sell tobacco products are among the strategies being explored to help eradicate smoking in Ireland.
Another option being explored by an HSE office is making big tobacco companies pay the massive health costs incurred by the state to care for those who are ill or have died of nicotine addiction.
Every week in Ireland, 100 people die and 1,000 people are hospitalized from smoking, according to the HSE.
Surveys are due early next year to explore public support for ‘innovative’ strategies to get to the ‘final’ for smoking, with the findings to feed into a report for the Strategic Program Plan for a Free Ireland. tobacco 2022.
The research aims to explore levels of public support to ban or severely limit the sale of tobacco products, including the proposed limitation of tobacco sales to a drastically reduced number of licensed retailers, or to pharmacies only.
The research will also explore banning the sale of tobacco products near schools and universities, and reducing the affordability of tobacco products through tax increases of up to 20 percent per year.
Also examined will be the levels of support for reducing the nicotine content of tobacco products to make them less addictive, the ban on filters and the requirement that individual cigarettes – as well as packages – carry health warnings.
Measures targeting the tobacco industry that will be explored include banning tobacco officials from meeting with government and requiring tobacco companies to pay health services for tobacco-related health costs.
It is estimated that one in three young people who start smoking will die from a smoking-related illness.
Smoking among adolescents
While smoking among young Irish people has declined since the mid-1990s, this trend has changed in recent years and rates of cigarette smoking are rising again among adolescents.
Earlier this month, New Zealand announced that it will introduce a law next year so that anyone born after 2008 cannot purchase cigarettes or tobacco products while they are alive.
The aim of the legislation is to try to prevent young people from starting to smoke.
Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke cost the Irish health service 172 million euros per year in a 2016 study by HSE Tobacco Free Ireland.
The study estimated that each year more than 300,000 bed days, nearly 21,500 case days and 33,615 hospitalizations were due to tobacco-related illnesses.
HSE research into new proposals to end tobacco use here is to feed into a report due in spring 2022.
The HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Strategy was put in place to take responsibility for and drive policy in the area of ââtobacco control, under a program decided by the Department of Health in 2013.
However, many experts in the field believe that the 2013 strategy, which aimed to reduce the prevalence of smoking to less than 5% of the population by 2025, will not succeed.