The days of smokers being able to escape to have a sneaky cigarette at the beach or in the park are numbered.
New plans are now being considered to introduce by-laws to stop the public lighting up in public.
Tobacco control officials have set their sights on extending a zero-tolerance approach to more sites, 18 years after Ireland became the first country in the world to outlaw smoking in the workplace.
In its latest report, the Department of Health’s Tobacco-Free Ireland section said it plans to promote a smoking ban in certain parks and beaches, “in conjunction with local authorities by voluntary measures or by the introduction of by-laws”.
A survey carried out last year found smoking rates increased from 17pc in 2019 to 18pc last year. Prevalence is highest among 45 to 54-year-olds – 24pc of whom smoke.
Roughly half of smokers reported changes in smoking behaviour during the Covid-19 restrictions, with 28pc saying they smoked more cigarettes than before the pandemic.
The latest update shows 60pc of the clubs involved in the GAA’s Healthy Clubs initiative – which aims to provide hubs for health within communities – had a smoke-free and vape-free policy.
It also found a number of initiatives introducing tobacco-free environments in areas frequented by children have been established by local authorities.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, who launched the report with junior minister Frank Feighan, said: “Stopping smoking remains one of the best decisions a person can make for their health and the HSE Quit service is available to anyone who needs support to take that first step.”