Intended for healthcare professionals


Ireland's workplaces, going smoke free

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 08 April 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:847
  1. Fenton Howell, dean (
  1. Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin 2, Republic of Ireland

    The result of sustained, evidence based, policymaking in support of better health

    On 29 March 2004 Ireland became the first European country to implement legislation creating smoke-free enclosed workplaces, including bars and restaurants.1 Norway (June 2004) and Sweden (2005) are on schedule to introduce similar legislation. Though there are some minor exemptions in the Irish legislation, this move is ground breaking and is of immense public health importance. The legislation shines as a beacon for other jurisdictions that might want to follow Ireland's lead.

    There were many twists and turns in the development of the Irish legislation. Over the past 15 years in particular, activity in all areas of tobacco control helped create the platform on which this legislation on secondhand smoke developed. Politicians, public servants, trade unions, and non-governmental organisations all played their part.

    In the 1990s the government introduced legislation that prohibited smoking in a small number of public places, but it had no general application to the workplace.2 In the mid-1990s, despite the growing evidence of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, a purely voluntary code of practice on smoking in the workplace was agreed between the government, …

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