Irish anti-smoking measures saved 1,700 lives, study shows
MORE THAN 1,700 people who would have died from tobacco-related illnesses are alive because of anti-smoking laws in Ireland, a new study reveals.
Measures such as significant hikes in the price of tobacco and the workplace smoking ban, introduced in Ireland in 2004, have prolonged the lives of 1,716 people.
The figures, published last week in Tobacco Control Journal, part of the British Medical Journal, relate to a period between 1998 and 2010.
The information forms the first of 11 studies to examine the effects of smoking cessation measures in European countries.
One of the authors of the report, Prof Luke Clancy, said price hikes were the most significant factor in making people quit smoking in Ireland.
He said it was a surprise that the second-biggest factor in making people quit was the workplace ban, which was controversially introduced in 2004.
The measure was brought in to protect workers from second-hand smoke and was not expected to be a deterrent to smoking in its own right.
Ireland scored poorly on media campaigns and smoking cessation services which, for instance, the UK is very strong on, he said.
Prof Clancy said 1,000 fewer people in Ireland die each year from smoking-related illnesses than in 1998.
At present, about 5,500 people die of such illnesses every year; 20 years ago the figure was 6,500.
He attributed the big decrease to advances in the treatment of strokes, cardiovascular problems and cancer which are brought on by smoking, but also the continuing decrease in smoking from a peak in 1975 of more than 50 per cent of the adult population.
The figure at present is about half that.
The survey predicted that rates of smoking will be at 20 per cent by 2040, resulting in 27,768 fewer deaths by that time.
However, if smoking rates were halved, the number of lives saved would be closer to 40,000, Prof Clancy maintained.
Finland is the first country in the world to set a target of having a smoke-free society by 2040.