Punching above their weight through policy learning: tobacco control policies in Ireland

Donley T. Studlar

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Ireland’s tobacco control policy today is recognised as one of the strongest in Europe and the world, largely on the basis of its first-in-the world general workplace smoking ban in 2004. However, it is insufficiently recognised that Ireland has persistently and deliberately developed tobacco control policies since the 1970s, a longer period than most countries. Using a five-fold analysis of factors influencing tobacco policy agendas, socioeconomic setting (including public opinion), networks, institutions, and ideas (including scientific information and diffusion), this paper explains policy development in Ireland over the long term. It demonstrates how a small country, not dependent on tobacco growing or a domestic tobacco industry but also having only a small research and bureaucratic capacity, has managed to create a strong tobacco control policy. Even though it is an EU member, Ireland has utilised diffusion of research and policy in the English-speaking world, especially paying close attention to the United States, to develop its position as a world policy leader in tobacco control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-78
Number of pages38
JournalIrish Political Studies
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • smoking
  • diffusion
  • policy agenda
  • European Union
  • tobacco control
  • Ireland

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