Tobacco: most Irish are in favor of its gradual ban

Research by ASH Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation shows that a large majority of Irish people support restrictions on outlets, low-nicotine cigarettes, raising the legal age for buying tobacco, as well as banning the sale of tobacco to people born after a certain date. .

It was in Dublin that Action on Smoking and Health (ASH Ireland) and the Irish Heart Foundation presented the latest study on how the population perceives various anti-smoking measures(1). It is carried out by Ipsos on a representative sample of 1,012 people and completes a series of studies commissioned by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to assess the uptake of several measures.

Large majority for new anti-smoking measures

This study shows that 76% of respondents accept the idea of ​​phasing out tobacco sales to people born after a certain date, known as the “game over”, compared to 22% who oppose it. The measure would raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco by one year each year, with the goal of achieving a tobacco-free generation of less than 5% of the population who smoke. 76% of 18-25 year olds said they were in favor of this type of measure.

Among the other topics evaluated, 78% of respondents are in favor of reducing the number of tobacco sales outlets and 87% are also in favor of significantly reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes to make them less addictive.

Another study, also carried out by IPSOS for the HSE in 2022 and published in 2023, confirmed that 74.6% of those polled support the Tobacco Free Ireland project, that 82.8% approve of a phasing out of tobacco sales and 86% say they are in favor cigarettes with reduced nicotine content(2).

A third study by the Irish Heart Foundation found that 73% were in favor of raising the legal age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21, while 26% were opposed. 66% approve of plain packaging for vaping products, compared to 25% who oppose. When it comes to e-cigarettes, 57% of respondents said they were in favor of a complete flavor ban, while 33% were opposed.

The authorities are aware of the accumulated delay

With 18% of smokers, including 14% of daily smokers and 4% of occasional smokers, smoking prevalence in Ireland has stopped falling as of 2020. It even increased slightly, which is the first time in 25 years in this country. Irish authorities, who have scaled back their anti-smoking efforts for several years, now fear they will not be able to achieve a tobacco-free generation by 2025. period.

Dr. Emmet O’Brien, president of ASH Ireland, said these studies suggest the public appear more determined than policymakers to achieve a tobacco-free Ireland. While in New Zealand, under pressure from the tobacco lobby, the new government has announced a major change in its anti-tobacco policy and Malaysia has also scaled back its ambitions in this area, Ireland still seems to be on the way to a tobacco-free generation, even if it means getting there a little later , than expected.

Keywords: Ireland, ASH Ireland, Irish Heart Foundation, Tobacco Free Ireland, Tobacco Free Generation

©Tobacco Free Generation

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(1) O’Regan E, Three quarters of people back a plan to phase out tobacco sales in IrelandIrish Independent, published 6 December 2023, accessed 7 December 2023.

(2) Cosgrave EJ, Blake M, Murphy E, et al., Is the public ready for a tobacco-free Ireland? A national survey of public opinion and attitudes towards tobacco in IrelandTobacco Control, First published online: 26 May 2023. doi: 10.1136/tc-2023-057958

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