The Irish Government has heard that there are now more smokers in Ireland than before the indoor smoking ban was enacted in 2004.

Áine Brady, Minister of State for Health, said that 29 percent of the population in Ireland smokes. This is despite the ban on indoor smoking, abolition of packs of less than 20 cigarettes, a ban on displays or advertising and the cost of cigarettes in Ireland being of “the highest in the world," at €8.55 ($11.27) a pack.

Fine Gael’s health spokesman, Dr James Reilly observed that there’s now two percent more smokers in Ireland.

He also referred to the Irish Cancer Society figures. He said, “Tobacco kills more people in Ireland than road accidents, suicide, drugs, farm accidents and Aids combined. It causes 30 per cent of all cancers, including 95 per cent of all lung cancers."

Mr Reilly called on the Government to implement the legislation which was passed 18 months ago to “print pictorial warnings on cigarette packets to help smokers visualise tobacco-related illnesses."

They spoke as Ireland’s Parliament passed the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill, introduced to allow for the amalgamation of the Office of Tobacco Control into the Health Service Executive.

TD for Kerry North Jimmy Deenihan commented on the number of young girls smoking. He said, “Unless there is a proactive and aggressive approach in our primary and post-primary schools to point out the physical and mental health effects of smoking, we will continue to lose the battle.”

Jan O’Sullivan, Labour’s spokesperson for health, pointed out that young people were not worried about “cardiovascular or any other type of disease," but “they might think about effects such as smelly breath or cost."

“These issues are more likely to sway young people. The emphasis in advertising should be on these areas.”