Aim To describe the process through which Ireland changed its policies towards smoking in work-places and distil lessons for others implementing or extending smoke-free laws.
Design, setting, participants, measurements This analysis is informed by a review of secondary sources including a commissioned media analysis, documentary analysis and key informant interviews with policy actors who provide insight into the process of smoke-free policy development. The policy analysis techniques used include the development of a time-line for policy reform, stakeholder analysis, policy mapping techniques, impact analysis through use of secondary data and a review process. The policy analysis triangle, which highlights the importance of examining policy content, context, actors and processes, will be used as an analytical framework.
Findings The importance of the political, economic, social and cultural context emerged clearly. The interaction of the context with the policy process both in identification of need for policy and its formulation demonstrated the opportunity for advocates to exert influence at all points of the process. The campaign to support the legislation had the following characteristics: a sustained consistent simple health message, sustained political leadership/commitment, a strong coalition between the Health Alliance, the Office of Tobacco Control and the Department of Health and Children, with cross-party political support and trade union support. The public and the media support clearly defined the benefit of deliberate and consistent planning and organization of a communication strategy.
Conclusions The Irish smoke-free legislation was a success as a policy initiative because of timing, dedication, planning, implementation and the existence of strong leadership and a powerful convinced credible political champion