Tobacco Free Ireland Conference 2018

Mobilising Communities Towards a Tobacco Free Ireland


The conference was opened by Ms. Martina Blake and Dr. Stephanie O Keeffe, both of whom play a significant role in leading the HSE towards becoming tobacco free by 2025. They spoke of the successes to date muchly attributed to local smoking cessation programmes, good communication strategies among teams and staff really supporting and engaging in the initiative. However, with the prevalence of smoking in Ireland at 22%  their message going forward is simple, “the HSE needs leadership to further translate policy into action”. Ireland is currently ranked 2nd out of 34 European countries, which is great but we cannot be complacent, Ireland has been at the forefront of Europe inspiring others and leading out on the process, our rightful place is #1.

This was further affirmed by Dr. Kristina Mauer-Stender representing the World Health Organisation, who urged us the Irish public “to trust our vision, dream big and make it happen.” She acknowledged, translating this into practice will be difficult and we will encounter many barriers in the form of complacency, willingness, distraction (competing priorities) and transformational leadership to effectively lead out on change. How to overcome these barriers “ownership and partnership”, appoint champions/individuals who will lead and prioritise the initiative taking a partnership approach to get buy-in from the team. We also heard the smokers perspective firsthand and what drove their success – smoking related illness and death of a loved one, the smell, money but what really made their attempt a long-term success was the Smoking Cessation programme & group support. This is great motivation for all the facilitators within EVE and accross the country to keep going and keep offering the support – it is making significant change.

Dr. Matthew Sadlier spoke of smoking patterns amongst mental health groups, he spoke passionately about shattering the myth that smoking helps ease anxiety and depression, research affirms the opposite that it is a causing factor. His advice for staff & services progressing away from the myth, is to invest in culture change – changing the attitudes & behaviours of staff & service users and to promote the long-term health benefits that will make a real difference in peoples lives.

Next Steps:

  • Continue to promote & encourage smoke free living
  • Spread the word of 2025 Endgame
  • Peer to Peer learning
  • Personal success stories
  • More trained facilitators (greater access)
  • Social media
  • Follow on from 7 week programme
  • Culture change