Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 192 & 202 - Tobacco control measures [6444/15 & 6545/15] [Schools].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 192 & 202 - Tobacco control measures [6444/15 & 6545/15] [Schools]. (12 Feb 2015)

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192. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health if regulations apply under the smoking ban legislation in respect of smoking on school grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6444/15]


Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): As the Deputy will be aware the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 as amended, prohibits smoking in the workplace which includes indoor areas in schools. Currently there is no legislative basis for prohibiting smoking on school grounds. In practice, however, many schools have adopted no smoking policies on school grounds. Tobacco Free Ireland,the national tobacco policy, contains the following recommendation, "to develop and introduce legislation to prohibit smoking within the campuses of primary schools, secondary schools and child care facilities". A time frame for implementing all the recommendations in Tobacco Free Ireland will be set out in the forthcoming Action Plan for Tobacco Free Ireland.

202. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the report on Australian youth smoking habits in the years 2010 to 2013; and if so, his views on this report [6545/15] 

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I assume the Deputy is referring to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report 2013, published last November. The report has been misrepresented in some quarters, quoting a finding that between 2010 and 2013 there appeared to be a slight rise in the proportion of people aged 12–17 smoking daily. However, the report itself points out that this increase in daily smoking was not statistically significant and that the trend for those aged 12–17 should be interpreted with caution due to a high relative standard error.

I find the report hugely encouraging in that it found that in Australia, 95% of 12-17 year olds have never smoked. Of greater importance was the finding that there has been a statistically significant decrease in daily smokers aged 14 years or older in Australia, falling from 16.6% in 2007, 15.1% in 2010 to 12.8% in 2013.

 The protection of children is one of the main themes of Tobacco Free Ireland. Ireland has also experienced a decrease in the numbers of children smoking in recent years. The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey (2010) found that 27% of children reported that they had ever smoked tobacco - a decrease of nine percentage points since the 2006 Survey, in which 36% of children reported that they had ever smoked. In the survey, 12% of children aged 10-17 reported that they were current smokers; which again represents a decrease since the figure of 15% recorded in 2006.

The year 2025 has been identified as the date on which Ireland will become tobacco free, i.e. with a smoking prevalence of 5% or less. It is anticipated that the recommendations made in Tobacco Free Ireland will make a significant contribution to achieving this target.

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