Bids to tackle scourge of tobacco nothing new
WHILE Ireland made headlines in 2004 when it became the first country in the world to enact a national smoking ban, attempts to tackle the scourge of tobacco are nothing new.
As far back as 1575, the Catholic Church had banned smoking in any place of worship in the Spanish colonies, extending it worldwide in the early 1600s. The church's ban was less to do with the harmful health effects, than with the disrespect shown by lighting up in a place of worship. Not until the early 1960s and the publication of a landmark report from the UK's Royal College of Physicians linking smoking with lung cancer did the public and politicians fully realise the dangers.
Various cities and states in the US, including Minnesota, Colorado and California, began enacting laws restricting use of tobacco from the 1970s, with New York introducing the Smoke-Free Air Act in 2003.
Today, about half of all US states have bans in enclosed public spaces and there are also bans in France, Italy and the UK.
France has even proposed a ban on beaches and in parks, similar to one introduced in New York in 2011, while Russia has banned smoking on public transport, in schools and hospitals.
But the strictest anti-tobacco laws are in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. In 2011, it forbid the sale of tobacco, and anyone caught buying cigarettes or smoking in a "restricted area" can be jailed for three years.