Smoking ban in Northern Ireland is 10 years old

Cancer Focus NI's Gerry McElwee and Louise Gilbert celebrate the 10th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s smoke-free workplaces legislation

IT'S hard to believe that just a decade ago our offices, shops and restaurants were filled with smoke. And as Northern Ireland celebrates the 10th anniversary of the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces and workplaces this week, local charity Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is calling for further measures to curb passive smoking.

The charity had been campaigning for the measure for 30 years before the legislation was finally introduced on April 30 2007 and is delighted by the important steps made towards a healthier population.

"No-one can be in any doubt that exposure to and inhalation of second hand tobacco smoke is a cause of cancer, heart and respiratory disease," says Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention, Cancer Focus NI. "There has been a high-level of compliance with the legislation right from the start. Smoke-free environments, from pubs and restaurants to offices and factories, quickly became part of everyone’s normal work and social life.

"The ban has also resulted in clear shifts in public attitudes towards exposing others to second hand smoke and has increased awareness of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy."

However, Mr McElwee believes further measures need to be put in place to reduce second hand exposure to smoke and vows to continue to advocate for comprehensive tobacco control policies to be implemented, with the aim of a smoke-free Northern Ireland by 2035.

"Challenges remain as nearly a quarter of the population here smokes and prevalence is higher in certain socio-economic groups. Many people also still smoke in their homes, which poses risks for others including children.”

“We demand the urgent introduction of a ban on smoking in cars carrying children in line with GB and the Republic of Ireland. We also believe there is public support for the further development of smoke-free spaces in Northern Ireland."

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