Youth Education – Youth Access Prevention
The tobacco industry openly acknowledges the risks of smoking. We believe only adults who have made an informed choice as regards the risks of smoking should smoke. Our companies continue to support programmes aimed at educating retailers to avoid sales of tobacco to Ireland’s youth, these include ‘Show Me I.D – Be Age Ok’ and ‘No ID, No Sale’.
Despite the policies of high excise and excessive regulation pursued by successive Governments in the last decade, 28% of Ireland’s smokers started smoking before 15 years of age (see below). This is one of the highest percentages in Europe (see graph). Germany has a much lower youth initiation rate than Ireland at 17% despite tobacco being advertised in cinemas, outdoor and in retail outlets.
Since 1997, the Federal Government in Germany has introduced many initiatives aimed at adolescents. Compulsory youth education programmes have proven to be successful. In Ireland, there is no mandatory smoking prevention education in schools. ITMAC believes that targeted education in schools would be a viable alternative to excessive tobacco regulation in Ireland.
Furthermore, to successfully and effectively tackle youth smoking, the Department of Health must get involved in combating the illicit trade as youth can easily access non Irish duty paid tobacco products in street markets and through door to door sales on a daily basis across Ireland.