Ireland's reputation for restricting cigarette smoking will be brought to the next level, as Health Minister Dr. James Reilly recently published a plan to reduce the number of smokers in the country to under 5 percent of the population by 2025. Currently nearly 22 percent of Irish people over the age of 15 smoke cigarettes.
Reilly is pushing for the Republic of Ireland to undergo “de-normalization" under the plan Tobacco Free Ireland. The plan consists of 60 recommendations to reduce smoking over the next 12 years. Along with increasing the cost of tobacco, smoking will be prohibited in cars, primary school, and secondary school campuses.
“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland,” Reilly told the BBC. “Each year at least 5,200 people die from diseases caused by tobacco use. This represents almost one in five of all deaths.”
The anti-smoking plan may also be beneficial to non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke in Irish pubs or clubs. Secondhand smoke causes hundreds and up to thousands of deaths from lung cancer or heart disease annually.
Quitting smoking before age 40 can reduce the risk of smoke-related disease or death by 90 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2004, the Republic of Ireland banned smoking in the workplace, pubs, and clubs, becoming the first country to do so. It also became the first in the world to restrict smoking outdoors within 3 meters of a public building.
Cigarettes cause one in five deaths in the U.S., up to 440,000 deaths per year including those from secondhand smoke. Smokers’ life spans are shortened by about 10 years in comparison to non-smokers.
Reilly hopes his measures will protect the next generation from starting up "this dreadful habit that kills one in two of those who use it."