Outdoor areas and secondhand smoke: some facts

Secondhand smoke (SHS), also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a mixture of two forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: mainstream smoke (the smoke exhaled by a smoker) and sidestream smoke (the smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, or tobacco burning in a hookah.

Prohibiting tobacco use in outdoor areas such as parks, playgrounds, beaches, access areas, outdoor restaurants and football stadia provides several benefits. As there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and exposure to secondhand smoke can occur in outdoor areas, bans in areas where people congregate can be justified on health grounds, particularly for those at increased risk of respiratory problems e.g., asthmatics.

Cigarette butts and other tobacco product wastes are the most common items picked up in urban and beach cleanups worldwide. Prohibiting smoking in these areas will greatly reduce cigarette butt litter, thereby enhancing the locations both visually and environmentally, and reducing fire risk.

Only 18 per cent of our population are now daily smokers. The experience in other countries like Canada and the UK is that smoke free outdoor spaces contribute to the normalisation of tobacco free lifestyles, making the healthy choice the easy choice.

“Denormalisation” strategies aim to make smoking-related behaviours less visible. Prohibiting tobacco use in outdoor areas reduces visibility and will also contribute therefore to the reduction of the social acceptability of smoking. Denormalisation of smoking assists young people in making healthy choices around experimenting with tobacco, assists current smokers in considering the decision to quit and facilitates continued abstinence in ex-smokers.

ASH Ireland initiated the ‘outdoor smokefree’ project in Ireland and has been pivotal in its success. Over the past eight years, ASH Ireland has advanced the ‘outdoor smokefree’ project in Ireland through engagement with county councils, national sports bodies, the Office of Public Works, Iarnród Éireann, and the third-level education sector. In line with Irish society becoming better informed on the health risks, there is a general momentum towards ‘outdoor smokefree’; the denormalisation of smoking is widely accepted and the industry has lost its clout with the decision-makers and society.

In Dublin, the Aviva stadium is entirely smokefree and Croke Park is partially so. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is currently working on a smokfree trial project with a number of its clubs. Over 80% of our public playgrounds are smokefree, as are two third-level education institutions, with others deeply engaged in the ‘going smokefree’ process. Many of our hospitals are now smokefree, an initiative being driven by the Health Service Executive.


One in every two people who smoke will die from a smoking-related disease

Quitting tobacco is the best thing people can do for their health. Tobacco is a very powerful addiction and children become addicted within weeks. People may be unaware that they are addicted until they make an attempt to quit. They may have to make multiple attempts to quit. Many smokers have to make six or more attempts before they finally succeed in giving up smoking and it is not unusual for people to have to make up to 20 attempts to quit.

Tobacco should not be treated as a product like any other. It is the most lethal consumer product ever marketed and, uniquely, kills when it is used exactly as it is supposed to be used. It is reliably estimated that at least one in every two people who smokes will die from a tobacco-related disease.

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ASH Ireland welcomes major international conference on tobacco to Dublin in 2021

ASH Ireland welcomes the ‘The World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH)’ to Dublin in 2021. All involved are to be congratulated on winning the bid for a major international conference, which will bring over 2,500 delegates to Dublin. The Dublin success was announced at the end of the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, held in South Africa last weekend. Read more

ASH Ireland urges smokers to try quitting this Ash Wednesday


Over €4,000 per annum can be saved by quitting

ASH Ireland encourages all smokers to try quitting this ASH Wednesday (Tomorrow 1st March). ASH Wednesday has traditionally been a day when people try to quit smoking and it is a good time to make the decision, as others will be doing something similar at this time. Read more

ASH Ireland welcomes new Board member

Statement from Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland

Ms. Shane Allwright
Prof Shane Allwright has joined the Board of Directors of ASH Ireland

All of us at ASH Ireland are very pleased that Professor Shane Allwright, formerly of Trinity College, has accepted an invitation to join the board.

ASH Ireland continually seeks people at board level who have the motivation and expertise to continue the fight against tobacco – and Professor Allwright’s reputation in this field is well established and recognised at national and international level. Read more

Another 5,900 people have died from smoking in 2017

Despite the reduction in smoking prevalence in recent decades, regretfully, close to 6000 Irish people have died from the effects of smoking in 2017.

Tragically close to 200 people will lose their lives on our roads over the same period and there will rightly be an outcry at this unnecessary loss of life – yet the remarkable loss of life associated with smoking is largely ignored. The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms that close to 6 million people will die worldwide because on smoking this year, with 600,000 of those losing their lives due to the effects of passive smoke. Read more