Dáil Éireann - Volume 542 - 17 October, 2001

Written Answers. - Anti-smoking Campaigns.

134. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the expenditure incurred in 2000 on anti-smoking campaigns; the expenditure allocated for 2001 for anti-smoking campaigns and programmes; the campaigns and programmes concerned applicable to each year; and the progress to date in this regard. [24466/01]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): To address the prevalence of smoking in this country, the health promotion unit of my Department supports an extensive range of anti-smoking initiatives. In 2000, £1.34 million, 1.70 million, was spent by the unit on the development and implementation of anti-smoking campaigns by the health promotion unit. In 2001, £1.5 million, 1.90 million, has been allocated for anti-smoking campaigns.

The current anti-smoking campaign, Break the Habit for Good, emphasises the positive effect quitting smoking can have on individuals and was launched in December 1998. The campaign involves national and local initiatives which offer support for those people wishing to give up smoking. The campaign was developed in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society and the health boards.

A further element of this campaign has been developed to target the growing numbers of [827] female teenagers who continue to take up smoking. While it is part of the Break the Habit for Good campaign, it is a specific initiative designed with a special focus. The campaign concentrates on issues which are more immediately important to young women such as their physical attributes. The simple message of this campaign is that smokers are less attractive, and it uses a range of anti-cosmetics presented by a character called NICO, who highlights the negative effects smoking can have on physical appearance, for example, yellowed teeth and wrinkled skin. The NICO campaign uses TV, radio and outdoor advertising to highlight the unappealing aspects of smoking. Both of these ongoing campaigns were used during 2000 and 2001.

Following the ending of sponsorship of events and activities by tobacco companies last year, I provided funding for sponsorship of the Citywest Hotel Irish Masters Snooker Tournament in 2001 totalling £200,000. A similar amount will be provided in 2002 and 2003, subject to evaluation of the 2001 investment. Health sponsorship of this prestigious international event will further highlight the healthy anti-smoking message and promote a tobacco free society. The extensive television coverage of the event involving many well known young snooker stars brought home to viewers, especially young people, the positive aspects of not taking up smoking and of quitting smoking. The message is consistent with Government approved anti-tobacco health policy.