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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 862 - Tobacco control measures [19448/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 862 - Tobacco control measures [19448/17]. (02 May 2017)

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862. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will consider allocating funds to the prevention of smoking as a way to reduce the €460 million that smoking costs the health system each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19448/17]


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy): Tobacco smoking is the biggest single cause of addiction, ill health and death in Ireland. It is estimated that 840,000 of the Irish population aged 15 and over are addicted to tobacco. Approximately 6,000 Irish people die every year from tobacco related illnesses.


Tobacco Free Ireland, the report of the Tobacco Policy Review Group, was endorsed by Government, and published in October 2013. It builds on existing tobacco control policies and legislation already in place in this country, and sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free (i.e. with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by 2025. Tobacco Free Ireland was among the first policy documents to be launched under the Healthy Ireland Framework and will play a major part in achieving the vision set out in Healthy Ireland. The two key themes underpinning Tobacco Free Ireland   are the protection of children and the denormalisation of smoking.


  A high level action plan for Tobacco Free Ireland was published in March 2015 and Annual Reports monitoring progress are also published and are available on the Department of Health’s website. The Government is committed to implementing Tobacco Free Ireland as outlined in A Programme for a Partnership Government.


  Considerable progress has been made and the action plan is being implemented as published. Some of the key achievements since the publication of Tobacco Free Ireland are:


  - the increase in price of tobacco products in Budgets 2014, 2015 and 2016;


  - the commencement of legislation which protects children from second hand smoke in cars;


  - the commencement of legislation to provide for standardised packaging of tobacco products;


  - the commencement of legislation to transpose the EU Tobacco Products Directive;


  - the commissioning and publication of the economic cost of smoking in Ireland report;


  - the publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority’s Health Technology Assessment of smoking cessation interventions;


  - the further development by the HSE of the QUIT campaign and the enhancement of supports for smokers who wish to stop smoking;


  - the commencement of a process to develop National Clinical Guidelines for smoking cessation between the HSE, the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) and other stakeholders;


  - the publication of research on tobacco including the potential impacts of standardised packaging;


  - the continued enforcement of tobacco control legislation by the HSE;


  - the continuation of an annual Healthy Ireland Survey, the Health Behaviour in School Children Study (HBSC) and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) which gives up-to-date reliable data on the prevalence of smoking throughout the whole population;


  - the engagement in the Healthy Ireland Framework to assist with changing social norms around smoking;


- the involvement of the NGO sector in supporting Tobacco Free Ireland actions;

  - the approval of Government to proceed with drafting the General Scheme of a Bill to provide for the introduction of a licensing system and other measure for tobacco products and non-medicinal nicotine delivery systems , including electronic cigarettes; and


  - the engagement with the World Health Organisation in implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.


  These actions together with other past initiatives have resulted in a decrease in the prevalence of smoking in Ireland. The Government and my Department in conjunction with the Health Service Executive and other key stakeholders will continue to support as appropriate the further implementation of Tobacco Free Ireland in order to reduce smoking prevalence to less than 5% by 2025.

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