80% of smokers 'support ban'

The vast majority of smokers believe the smoking ban was a good idea, a survey showed today.

Twelve months since the smoke-free law began, 80% of smokers think it was the right thing to do.

Research marking the first anniversary of the ban found 96% of people believed the law was successful, including 89% of smokers.

The tns/mrbi survey found 98% of people felt workplaces were healthier since the ban started, including 94% of smokers.

Sean Power, junior health minister, said the Irish experience should be a signal to the rest of the world of what can be achieved.

“The Irish public’s overwhelming acceptance of this historic public health measure sends a very clear message to legislators around the world who are considering the introduction of similar smoke-free workplace legislation,” he said.

“Not alone is it very possible to implement such legislation but citizens fundamentally accept its validity and necessity in order to protect their health.”

The research showed compliance levels with the ban were high across all sectors, with a 93% compliance in hotels, 99% in restaurants and 90% in licensed premises.

And the minister said the figures were testament to the effective policing and enforcement of the ban.

In a One Year Review report due to be published by the Office of Tobacco Control tomorrow, inspection data from the National Tobacco Control Inspection Programme shows in the first nine months since of the ban, 94% of premises inspected were compliant with the law.

A total of 34,957 inspections/compliance checks were conducted up until the end of December last year.

The Health and Safety Authority are also due to announce an average 92% compliance rate from 7,500 inspections into the smoke-free workplace legislation.

Jim Lyons, Health and Safety Authority chairman, said the first nine months of the smoke-free law were a resounding success.

“With average compliance levels increasing steadily from 90% at the end of May, to 91% at the end September, and nearly 92% at year end, employers have responded extremely well in building compliance and they have shown a great willingness to achieve smoke-free workplaces,” he said.

“We are seeing very high levels of co-operation on our inspections, which reflects the goodwill and positive approach that employers and employees have taken to this important health measure.”

Research over the last year for the OTC found in June 2004, that 89% of the public felt that the law had been a success and in August 82% of the public supported the law and 95% of the public agreed it was a positive health measure.

Dr Michael Boland, OTC chairman, said while the success rates were high a smoke-free society was the real aim.

“Effectively, we’ve seen an 11% rise in support for the measure since August 2004 and almost 100% of people accept the main reason for the introduction of the legislation which was to allow people to work and socialise in healthy, clean, smoke-free environments,” he said.

“This law has undoubtedly contributed to a healthier society, however with almost a quarter of our population addicted to nicotine much remains to be done to achieve a tobacco-free society in Ireland.”

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