Health Minister Micheál Martin (at the time) introduced the no smoking ban in the workplace and Ireland was the first country in the world to do this.
The ban commenced on the 29th March, 2004 and included restaurants, bars and pubs.
A study that started immediately after the ban was introduced included researchers from Brunel University in London, the Environmental Health Sciences Institute, Dublin Institute of Technology, and The Tobacco Free Research Institute Ireland (TFRI).
The director of TFRI and a member of the research team, Luke Clancy said that since Ireland became the first country in the world to apply a national workplace smoking ban, it was important to ascertain that there are significant health benefits.
“Previous studies have shown decreases in cardiovascular mortality following the implementation of comprehensive smoking bans,” said Prof Clancy. “Our study shows that mortality decreases were primarily due to reductions in passive smoking, rather than a reduction in active smoking, and we remember that this [protection from passive smoke] was the basis for the introduction of the 2004 legislation.”
“The study now shows a 26% reduction in heart disease [ischemic heart disease, IHD], a 32% reduction in stroke, and a 38% reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] mortality,” said Prof Clancy.
“Post-ban significant reductions in IHD, stroke, and COPD mortalities were seen in age groups 65 years and older. COPD mortality reductions were found particularly in females.
“Unadjusted estimates indicate that 3,726 smoking-related deaths were likely prevented post-ban.”
Prof Clancy reported that the national smoking ban was linked with immediate reductions in early mortality. “Importantly, post-ban risk differences did not change with a longer follow-up period,” he said.
“This study corroborates previous evidence for cardiovascular causes, and is the first study to demonstrate reductions in stroke and respiratory causes.”
1st for Ireland’s health as nearly 4,000 lives have been saved since the smoking ban started in 2004.