Ireland became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 5, 2006.
Smoke Free Places
Smoking is prohibited in indoor workplaces, public places, and on public transportation, with limited exceptions. The following places are exempted from the nearly comprehensive smoking ban: prisons; hotel guestrooms; and living accommodations in higher education facilities. In these places, managers, owners, or operators may designate smoking rooms. Smoking is also restricted in outdoor places with a roof and more than 50 percent of the perimeter surrounded by one or more walls.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
The law provides for a comprehensive ban on advertising and promotion of tobacco products with a few limited exceptions, such as allowing point of sale advertising at shops that sell only tobacco. All forms of tobacco sponsorship are prohibited.
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
Smoked tobacco products must display one of 14 combined (text and picture) health warnings, occupying 65 percent of the front and back of the package. A general warning must occupy 50 percent of one lateral surface of the package and an information message must occupy 50 percent of the other lateral surface. There are three sets of 14 authorized combined warnings, which are to be rotated annually. Tobacco for oral use, other than chewing tobacco, may not be sold in Ireland. Chewing tobacco products must display one text-only warning occupying 32 percent of the two most visible surfaces of the package. Misleading packaging and labeling, which could include terms such as “light” and “low tar” and other signs, is prohibited.
Legislation requiring standardized (plain) packaging was adopted in March 2015. As of September 29, 2018, plain packaging is required for all tobacco products.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
The law regulates specified contents of cigarettes, including banning characterizing flavors; and ingredients that facilitate nicotine uptake, create the impression of health benefits, or are associated with energy and vitality; among others. Menthol as a characterizing flavor will be banned as of May 20, 2020. The law requires that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.
The law restricts the sale of tobacco products via vending machines and the internet. The law prohibits the sale of single cigarettes and small packets of cigarettes. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
The Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 is the primary law governing smoking in public places, workplaces, and on public transport; tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship; and tobacco packaging and labeling. The Act was amended by the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2004, which mandated smoke free workplaces and strengthened tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship restrictions in order to implement Directive 2003/33/EC regarding advertising promotion and sponsorship. The PHA 2002 was later amended by the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2009, which revised provisions regarding penalties, exemptions from the advertising ban, registration of tobacco sellers and exemptions from retail offenses; the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2010, which replaced the Office of Tobacco Control with the Health Service Executive; and the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2013, which amends the provisions granting the Minister of Health the power to make regulations related to promotional activities. These Acts together are referred to as Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002 to 2015.
The Public Health (Tobacco) (Product Information) Regulations 2009 and the Public Health (Tobacco) (Self Service Vending Machines) Regulations 2009 were promulgated to implement provisions of the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2004. The Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Regulations 1991 (S.I. No. 326 of 1991) were promulgated under an earlier tobacco control law and regulate advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products. These regulations were substantially revised by amendments adopted in 1994, 1996, 2000, 2009, and 2012.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland General Commercial Communications Code and the European Communities (Audiovisual Media Services) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 258/2010) regulate broadcasting and other audiovisual media and implement Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010.
The European Union (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 271 of 2016) (as amended) implement Directive 2014/40/EU and require combined text/graphic warnings occupying 65 percent of the front and back of most smoked tobacco product packages manufactured after May 20, 2016. Products manufactured before this date may be sold until May 20, 2017. These regulations also regulate cross-border distance sales, e-cigarettes and herbal smoked products. These regulations repeal the European Communities (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco Products) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 425 of 2003), 2008 (S.I. No. 255 of 2008), 2011 (S.I. No. 655 of 2011), and the Public Health (Tobacco) (General and Combined Warnings) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 656 of 2011). The Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015 was passed in March 2015 and requires standardized (plain) packaging for all tobacco products. The Act was amended by the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2017, and implementing regulations are contained in the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 422 of 2017).
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.