Smoking in Ireland

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Smoking in Ireland is banned fully in the general workplace, enclosed public places, restaurants, bars, education facilities, healthcare facilities and public transport. However, it is permitted in designated hotel rooms and there is no ban in residential care, prisons and in outdoor areas.[1] Public opinion is in favour of the bans on smoking imposed in Ireland.[2]


Currently, the Irish law prohibits smoking fully in the general workplace, enclosed public places, restaurants, bars, education facilities, healthcare facilities and public transport. Smoking rooms are permitted in hotels.[1]

As of July 2009, it is prohibited to advertise cigarettes and sell 10-packs of cigarettes in retail outlets. Additionally, as of February 2013, any tobacco product placed on the market must have graphic warnings.[3] There is legislation being made to introduce plain tobacco packaging and make Ireland the second country to do so, after Australia.[4]

Bans on smoking[edit]

Smoking in workplaces in Ireland was banned on 29 March 2004, making Ireland the first country in the world to institute an outright ban on smoking in workplaces. From that date onwards, under the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts, it has been illegal to smoke in all enclosed workplaces. The ban is strictly enforced and includes bars, restaurants, clubs, offices, public buildings, company cars, trucks, taxis and vans. A private residence is considered a workplace when tradespeople, such as plumbers or electricians, are working there. €3,000 is the maximum fine on the spot, while a prison sentence can also be given at a later time for violators. The law exempts dwellings, prisons, nursing homes, psychiatric wards, hotel rooms, charitable accommodation and college dorm rooms. Certain buildings such as some hospitals forbid smoking anywhere in the grounds.

Before the 2004 law, smoking was already outlawed in public buildings, hospitals, schools, restaurant kitchens, cinemas, public pharmacies, public hairdressing premises, public banking halls, and on public transport aircraft and buses and some trains (Intercity trains provided smokers' carriages).[5]

Premises must display a sign to inform patrons of the ban (in Irish or English), and the contact person for any complaints. A workplace can be given a fine of €3,000 for each person that is found smoking (this means €15,000 for 5 people in violation). Smoking rooms are not allowed. Any shelter can not have more than 50 percent coverage of walls. There is also a Compliance Line set up by the Office of Tobacco Control, that people can call to report people smoking in a workplace or retail outlets selling tobacco to under-18s.

On 18 July 2008, Irish Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle proposed in a committee in the European Parliament, that she would like to see an EU-wide ban on cigarettes and cigars by 2025.[6]

Cigarette packaging and advertising regulations[edit]

On 1 July 2009, Ireland banned in-store tobacco advertising and displays of tobacco products at retail outlets and new controls on tobacco vending machines (limiting them to being token-operated in registered bars and clubs only) were also introduced. At the same time a ban on the sale of packets of 10 cigarettes was introduced. Tobacco advertising had already been banned from radio, television and on billboards beforehand. The changes now mean that tobacco products must now be stored out of sight in closed containers behind the counter (accessible by retail staff only) and customers can be shown a card showing all available brands in a pictorial list if they wish to purchase cigarettes. Signs must also be shown informing customers that tobacco is sold at the premises. Ireland was the first country in the EU and third in the world (after Canada and Iceland) to introduce such measures, which are punishable with a fine of €3,000 and/or a six-month prison sentence. However, specialist tobacco shops (of which there are fewer than six) are exempt from the new rules; all retailers selling tobacco must register with the Health Service Executive and the new laws will be enforced by environmental health officers.[citation needed]

As of 1 February 2013, any tobacco product placed on the market must have graphic warnings.[3] The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly's proposal to introduce plain tobacco packaging was approved by the Cabinet and expected legislation will be in place by early 2014.[4] As of September 2017 all cigarettes must remove all logos and feature plain packaging.[7]

Public opinion[edit]

The public, according to a Flash Eurobarometer poll conducted by the Gallup Organisation in 2008 for the European Commission, is in favour of a full ban on smoking in restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, offices and other indoor workplaces.[2]

Flash Eurobarometer poll from 2008 for the EC [2]
Italy Italy Republic of Ireland Ireland European Union EU27 Austria Austria Czech Republic Czech Republic
Totally in favour of ban in restaurants 88.4% 77.9% 62.5% 37.6% 58.4%
Totally in favour of ban in bars, pubs and clubs 86.5% 70.1% 46.7% 24.2% 27.1%
Totally in favour of ban in offices and other indoor workplaces 88.3% 79.1% 72.5% 66% 40.8%

According to the above poll there is a majority of people who support the ban on smoking introduced in 2004.

Ban on smoking in private vehicles[edit]

Since 2009, Irish anti-smoking campaigners and scientists had been urging the government to introduce such a ban.[8][9] In July 2011 the Minister for Health said that he was considering a ban where children are present in the car.[10] On January 1st 2016, regulations make it an offence for a person to smoke in a private vehicle when there is more than one person present and there is a person under the age of 18 present. The offence would fall on the person smoking regardless of their age.

The senator and oncologist John Crown put a bill before parliament in 2012 to ban smoking in a car with children.[11][12] This bill was passed into law in December 2014 with an expectation that enforcement by Gardaí would commence in 2015.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Overview of smoke-free legislation in the EU" (PDF). European Commission. May 2011. p. 8. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Survey on Tobacco Analytical report" (PDF). Gallup. European Commission. March 2009. pp. 56, 58, 60. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b Roche, Sandra (1 February 2013). "New graphic photos on Irish tobacco products from today". Newstalk. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Plain cigarette packets to be introduced". The Irish Times. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  5. ^ EU 2004 – "Smoking ban is first in world" Archived 5 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ EUObserver MEP calls for EU ban on cigarettes by 2025 18 July 2008
  7. ^ Maynard, Olivia M.; Brooks, Jonathan C. W.; Munafò, Marcus R.; Leonards, Ute (1 April 2017). "Neural mechanisms underlying visual attention to health warnings on branded and plain cigarette packs". Addiction. 112 (4): 662–672. doi:10.1111/add.13699. ISSN 1360-0443. PMC 5347953. PMID 27886656.
  8. ^ ASH Ireland Archived 4 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Irish Health
  10. ^ Children on board? Smoking in cars may be banned
  11. ^ "Picture a car filled with second-hand smoke and child in the seat". Irish Independent. 2 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Protection of Children's Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Act 2014 – No. 40 of 2014 – Houses of the Oireachtas". 3 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Protection of Children's Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Act 2014 – No. 40 of 2014 – Houses of the Oireachtas". 3 May 2012.

See also[edit]