Christopher Snowden: Why our efforts to cut smoking have been a failure
In the eyes of the public health community, Ireland is the poster boy for tobacco control.
It has the highest cigarette prices in the EU, and some of the strictest prohibitions. Ireland was the first country in the world to introduce a workplace smoking ban. It has banned the sale of 10 packs of cigarettes, introduced a display ban and vending restrictions, and graphic health warnings on packs.
The European tobacco control scale has consistently ranked Ireland second-best in Europe. This scale awards points for criteria including high tobacco prices, extensiveness of smoking bans and advertising bans, and the size of health warning labels. Only the UK scores higher than Ireland, because it introduced graphic health warnings earlier and spends more annually on tobacco control. Unfortunately, the tobacco control scale is more concerned with prohibitionist policies than it is with outcomes. Ireland's high ranking belies the fact that there has been no significant reduction in smoker numbers in recent years.