Thursday 17 October 2019

Bid to make Fingal 'tobacco-free' zone

Ken Phelan

A local organisation called Empower has teamed up with The Irish Cancer Society the Department of Health and HSE to make Fingal 'tobacco free'.

The Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne, last week launched 'Tobacco Free Fingal', an initiative to assist communities in Fingal in implementing and maintaining a 'facility tobacco-free policy.'

The initiative will see all Fingal community facilities, homes, parks and beaches becoming smoke-free.

Mayor of Fingal, Councillor Anthony Lavin, and Councillor Kiernan Dennison, Chair of Empower spoke at the event, held on National No Smoking Day.

Development of the initiative was led by Empower, a local development company in Fingal, with support from the HSE's Health Promotion and Improvement Unit and the Irish Cancer Society.

The 'toolkit' will initially be rolled out in community centres in Balbriggan, Donabate, Portrane and Swords, all of which were engaged in the development process.

'Tobacco Free Fingal' builds on the success of the Irish Cancer Society's 'We Can Quit' smoking cessation programme in centres across Fingal, and provides organisations with the necessary guidance to develop and maintain tobacco-free spaces through engagement with stakeholders in their community.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Byrne said: 'I am delighted to launch this fantastic initiative on National No Smoking Day.

'The development of this Tobacco Free toolkit and its roll-out in community centres across Fingal will contribute enormously to de-normalising smoking in our communities, working towards our goal of a Tobacco Free Ireland by 2025.

'Empower, the HSE's Health Promotion and Improvement Unit, the Irish Cancer Society and the community centres involved are to be commended for their work on the toolkit, which could serve as a template for the development of tobacco-free communities across the country.'

The initiative for a Tobacco-Free Community grew from collaborative work undertaken between Empower, the Irish Cancer Society, the HSE's Health Promotion and Improvement Unit, with feedback from a number of community centres across Fingal.

Commenting in advance of the launch of the toolkit, Adeline O'Brien, CEO of Empower, said: 'Research shows that smoker rates tend to be higher in lower-income communities, and that community agencies can play a vital role in supporting smoking cessation and in de-normalising smoking.

'As the local development company for Fingal, Empower is delighted to be launching this innovative toolkit which will help to create a healthier environment for all members of the community in Fingal.'

Ireland's Tobacco Free Ireland programme was created in 2013 under the Healthy Ireland framework. Key objectives include reducing smoking rates to five per cent or below; promoting and providing access to smoking cessation supports; reducing or eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke for the general population; and de-normalising smoking/tobacco use in the community.

Empower is the local development company for Fingal. It was established in 1995, with offices located in Clonsilla, Mulhuddart and Balbriggan. It is responsible for the delivery of a number of Government funded programmes to meet local needs.

Fingal Independent