Ireland is "on the right track" to be tobacco-free by 2025, according to a junior minister.
The Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill will ban the sale of tobacco products at places or events that are intended for children in a bid to make Ireland tobacco-free in five years time.
Tobacco Free Ireland, the national tobacco control policy, sets the target for the country to be tobacco-free, which is a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%, by the year 2025.
An action plan was first published in March 2015 and each year the Department of Health reports on the ongoing implementation of the plan.
The 2019 Tobacco Free Ireland Annual Report published yesterday found that the key achievements last year included the approved drafting of the bill and the inclusion of a question on smoking in the 2021 census.
The Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, said "it is possible" to reach the goal of a tobacco-free Ireland by 2025 and that we are "on the right track".
He told Newstalk Breakfast that the number of people who smoke dropped by 165,000 over the last five years.
He said: "We are decreasing [the number of smokers] by an average of 1-2% [each year].
"For the period of the last five years, our rates dropped from 23% to 17%, which was 165,000 fewer smokers.
"It's my hope now that smokers will try to quit as soon as possible because it can actually prevent them from more serious outcomes from COVID-19."
Mr Feighan said the new Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill will decrease advertising for smoking products in front of children and will look at the sale of e-cigarettes.
He added: "We want to ensure that smoking advertising will not be in an area that children have access to.
"Also, we want to look at banning the sale of e-cigarettes to children."
He said that the inclusion of a question on smoking status in the 2021 national Census will provide more detailed information on the prevalence of smoking nationwide.
He explained: "We want to see where in the country and what age groups [are smoking] more than any other and then we can target our anti-smoking campaigns and our help to those groups."