Under the headline 'Early introduction of ban does little to reduce smoking rates', The Irish Times has reported that...
More people continue to smoke in the Republic than in Northern Ireland, despite the earlier introduction of the smoking ban here, according to new research.
The One Island – One Lifestyle? report, which compares the health of individuals living on both sides of the Border, shows the introduction of the workplace smoking ban in the Republic in 2004 has done little to reduce overall smoking rates.
Done little? That's one way of putting it. A more accurate way of putting it would be to say that smoking rates have increased since the ban, as the same newspaper reported last year:
The number of people who said they were smokers fell from 33 per cent in 1998 to 27 per cent in 2002 but increased to 29 per cent last year
Using the post hoc ergo propter hoc logic so beloved of researchers when heart attacks are being counted, one might even say that the smoking ban "caused" more people to smoke. I wouldn't subscribe to that logic, but it is clear that the smoking rate was falling significantly before the smoking ban and has risen since.
It is interesting to note that there was also a significant fall in the smoking rate in Northern Ireland before the ban as well.
The effects of the workplace ban in the North have yet to be assessed, but the percentage of smokers there fell 6 per cent from 32 per cent in 2003 to 26 per cent in 2005.
We shall see whether this fall continues after 2007 or whether the curse of the smoking ban will hit the Irish North of the border too.