Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Health
Tobacco Control Measures
194. To ask the Minister for Health the degree to which his Department was involved in the preparation for the COP9 conference on tobacco control; the lessons learned by Ireland and the European Union from COP9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59593/21]
The 9thConference of the Parties (COP9) to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control took place virtually from 8 to 12 November. Due to the virtual nature of the conference, an abridged agenda was adopted. Unlike previous meetings of the parties, discussion and decision-making on key issues relating to tobacco control could not take place at COP9. Discussion of these issues will take place at COP10 which is scheduled for November 2023.
As with previous COPs, officials from my Department actively participated in discussions at EU level during September and October to develop positions in advance of COP9.
In the context of a meeting where very few decisions were made, one of the key learnings from COP9 was the need to be ever-vigilant in protecting public health policy from interference by the tobacco industry.
195. To ask the Minister for Health his views on the findings of a survey by an organisation (details supplied) which found that 71% of those surveyed in favour of raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years of age; if he has considered introducing this new age restriction in Ireland given the success this measure had in reducing smoking prevalence among 18 to 24 year olds in the United States of America; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59594/21]
I note with interest the findings of the survey conducted on behalf of the Irish Heart Foundation on increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. In recent weeks I approved a proposal by my Department to carry out a review of Tobacco Free Ireland, the national tobacco control policy. The measures recommended by Tobacco Free Ireland, and implemented since its introduction in 2013, have been guided by evidence and best practice with the overarching goals of the denormalisation of smoking in society and the protection of children from the harms of tobacco products. In the course of the review of Tobacco Free Ireland, all policy proposals that are evidence based and can assist in efforts to reduce our smoking rates will be examined.