Northern Ireland Goes Smoke-Free This Month

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On the day that Wales goes smoke-free, Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, reminds us that our legislation is not far off.

Northern Ireland will go smoke-free on 30 April 2007, with enforcement starting at 6.00am. It will mean that smoking will no longer be permitted in most enclosed and substantially enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants.

Dr Michael McBride said, "It is now only 28 days until Northern Ireland goes smoke-free. This is such an exciting time for public health right across these islands. The Republic of Ireland and Scotland already enjoy a smoke-free environment, and today, Wales will join that club. We will also soon enjoy the same health benefits from 30 April, with England following in July.

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"It is no coincidence that we are all taking the same steps to protect people's health. This legislation will save lives. It will significantly reduce our exposure to the toxic effects of second hand smoke. Experiences elsewhere have shown that as a result of the legislation, the air quality in many enclosed places has greatly improved. Smoking cessation rates have also increased.

"Early indications in Northern Ireland show that more people than ever are trying to quit. If the legislation has given some people that extra incentive that they needed, then that can only be a good thing.

"I truly believe that these effects will continue for generations to come. The simple fact that children will not be bombarded with images of people smoking around them in public, will mean that they may be less tempted to take up the habit themselves.

Dr McBride continued: "Smoking is extremely damaging to us and the people round us. It is known to be the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in Northern Ireland, and indeed in Wales. I would like to congratulate everyone in Wales for going smoke-free, and offer them all much success for the smooth implementation of the legislation."

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