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Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 14:52 GMT
7,000 Irish smokers kick habit
Smoker lights up
Irish smoking "quitline" has received more than 30,000 calls
More than 7,000 smokers have kicked the habit since Ireland's smoking ban was introduced, according to the country's prime minister.

Bertie Ahern said it was clear the ban on workplace smoking was having a positive effect.

Since the end of March 2004, smoking has been illegal in workplaces, including pubs and restaurants in the Republic of Ireland.

It was the first country in the world to introduce such a nationwide ban.

Mr Ahern said it had proved a positive effect not only on the health of the nation, "but also on the functioning of our health services".

He was speaking on Friday, marking the Irish Cancer Society's main fund-raising day.

People now recognise passive smoking as a serious health and safety issue and wish to be protected from it
Bertie Ahern
Irish prime minister

"Compliance levels throughout the various sectors have remained consistently high, with overall compliance of 94% being recorded by the Office of Tobacco Control.

"Right across the country, people value being able to work and socialise in a clean and healthy environment," he said.

'Passive smoking'

The government-backed smoking "quitline" has received more than 30,000 calls since it was set up 18 months ago, said the taoiseach.

"It is estimated that 7,000 smokers have given up smoking, with many more reducing their intake of tobacco products considerably.

Bertie Ahern
Mr Ahern said compliance levels remained consistently high

"Not only are smoke-free enclosed workplaces being accepted as the norm, they are also seen as a right.

"People now recognise passive smoking as a serious health and safety issue and wish to be protected from it," said Mr Ahern.

Last year, a major drinks company blamed the smoking ban for a fall in the sales of Guinness.

Shares in Diageo, the world's biggest drinks company, fell by 4%.

Owners of pubs where people are caught smoking illegally by health inspectors enforcing the ban can be fined up to 3,000 euros (2,400).

A smoking ban in all Northern Ireland government departments came into effect in January.

Many in Northern Ireland, particularly doctors and politicians, have called for a universal ban.




SEE ALSO:
Charity urges action over smoking
08 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Smoking stubbed out by government
01 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
Call for NI smoking ban
02 Dec 04 |  Northern Ireland


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