On this day March 29, 2004

The Republic of Ireland becomes the first country in the world to ban smoking in all work places, including bars and restaurants.

no_smoking_signIreland established a nationwide smoking ban in all enclosed workplaces.

The ban now extends, voluntarily, outside of buildings. For example, smoking is not allowed at the entrances to buildings at Dublin Airport, but only in areas where signs indicate that smoking is permitted.

In 2008, Ireland will ban advertising in shops (advertising is already banned in print and on radio, television, and billboards) and ensure that cigarettes are not visible in stores. However since the smoking ban was introduced the percentage of people who smoke in Ireland has increased from 27% to 29%.

Pope Urban VII’s 13-day papal reign included the world’s first known public smoking ban (1590), as he threatened to excommunicate anyone who “took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose”.

The earliest citywide European smoking bans were enacted shortly thereafter. Such bans were enacted in Bavaria, Kursachsen, and certain parts of Austria in the late 1600s. Smoking was banned in Berlin in 1723, in Königsberg in 1742, and in Stettin in 1744. These bans were repealed in the revolutions of 1848.

The first building in the world to have a smoke-free policy was the Old Government Building in Wellington, New Zealand in 1876. This was over concerns about the threat of fire, as it is the second largest wooden building in the world.

The first modern, nationwide tobacco ban was imposed by the Nazi Party in every German university, post office, military hospital and Nazi Party office, under the auspices of Karl Astel’s Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research, created in 1941 under orders from Adolf Hitler. Major anti-tobacco campaigns were widely broadcast by the Nazis until the demise of the regime in 1945.

Nazi Germany initiated a strong anti-tobacco movement and led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history. Anti-tobacco movements grew in many nations from the beginning of the 20th century, but these had little success, except in Germany, where the campaign was supported by the government after the Nazis came to power.

It was the most powerful anti-smoking movement in the world during the 1930s and early 1940s. The National Socialist leadership condemned smoking and several of them openly criticized tobacco consumption. Research on smoking and its effects on health thrived under Nazi rule and was the most important of its type at that time.

Adolf Hitler’s personal distaste for tobacco and the Nazi reproductive policies were among the motivating factors behind their campaign against smoking, and this campaign was associated with both antisemitism and racism.

The Nazi anti-tobacco campaign included banning smoking in trams, buses and city trains, promoting health education, limiting cigarette rations in the Wehrmacht, organizing medical lectures for soldiers, and raising the tobacco tax. The National Socialists also imposed restrictions on tobacco advertising and smoking in public spaces, and regulated restaurants and coffeehouses.

Adolf Hitler was a heavy smoker in his early life—he used to smoke 25 to 40 cigarettes daily—but gave up the habit, concluding that it was a waste of money. In later years, Hitler viewed smoking as “decadent” and “the wrath of the Red Man against the White Man, vengeance for having been given hard liquor“, lamenting that “so many excellent men have been lost to tobacco poisoning”. He was unhappy because both Eva Braun and Martin Bormann were smokers and was concerned over Hermann Göring’s continued smoking in public places. He was angered when a statue portraying a cigar-smoking Göring was commissioned. Hitler is often considered to be the first national leader to advocate nonsmoking.

Hitler disapproved of the military personnel’s freedom to smoke, and during World War II he said on March 2, 1942, “it was a mistake, traceable to the army leadership at the time, at the beginning of the war”. He also said that it was “not correct to say that a soldier cannot live without smoking”.

He promised to end the use of tobacco in the military after the end of the war. Hitler personally encouraged close friends not to smoke and rewarded those who quit smoking. However, Hitler’s personal distaste for tobacco was only one of several catalysts behind the anti-smoking campaign.

Research and studies on tobacco’s effects on the population’s health were more advanced in Germany than in any other nation by the time the Nazis came to power. The link between lung cancer and tobacco was first proven in Nazi Germany, contrary to the popular belief that American and British scientists first discovered it in the 1950s.

The term “passive smoking” (“Passivrauchen“) was coined in Nazi Germany. Research projects funded by the Nazis revealed many disastrous effects of smoking on health. Nazi Germany supported epidemiological research on the harmful effects of tobacco use.

Hitler personally gave financial support to the Wissenschaftliches Institut zur Erforschung der Tabakgefahren (Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research) at the University of Jena, headed by Karl Astel. Established in 1941, it was the most significant anti-tobacco institute in Nazi Germany.

Franz H. Müller in 1939 and E. Schairer in 1943 first used case-control epidemiological methods to study lung cancer among smokers. In 1939, Müller published a study report in a reputed cancer journal in Germany which claimed that prevalence of lung cancer was higher among smokers.

Müller, described as the “forgotten father of experimental epidemiology”, was a member of the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK) and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP, the Nazi Party). Müller’s 1939 medical dissertation was the world’s first controlled epidemiological study of the relationship between tobacco and lung cancer.

Apart from mentioning the increasing incidents of lung cancer and many of the causes behind it such as dust, exhaust gas from cars, tuberculosis, X-ray and pollutants emitted from factories, Müller’s paper pointed out that “the significance of tobacco smoke has been pushed more and more into the foreground”.

Physicians in the Third Reich were aware that smoking is responsible for cardiac diseases, which were considered to be the most serious diseases resulting from smoking. Use of nicotine was sometimes considered to be responsible for increasing reports of myocardial infarction in the country.

In the later years of World War II, researchers considered nicotine a factor behind the coronary heart failures suffered by a significant number of military personnel in the Eastern Front.

A pathologist of the Heer examined thirty-two young soldiers who had died from myocardial infarction at the front, and documented in a 1944 report that all of them were “enthusiastic smokers”. He cited the opinion of pathologist Franz Buchner that cigarettes are “a coronary poison of the first order.”


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