Seanad debates

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Protection of Children's Health from Tobacco Smoke Bill 2012: Second Stage


5:00 pm

Photo of Mary WhiteMary White (Fianna Fail)

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. I commend Senators John Crown and Jillian van Turnhout and my Fianna Fáil colleague, Senator Mark Daly, on bringing it forward.

Some 7,000 people die from smoking related diseases in Ireland every year. Anything we can do about this is to be commended. As Minister for Health and Children in 2004, the Fianna Fáil leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, introduced the first national smoking ban. The smoking ban was acknowledged nationally and internationally as the world's first ban on smoking in the workplace. The Government must support this Bill and introduce other measures aimed at eliminating smoking from society.

At the launch of the Bill in the audio-visual room last week, Senator Crown said the legislation is very important and will limit the exposure of children to harmful cigarette smoke in cars. Exposure of children to smoke in cars is especially dangerous as the levels of second-hand smoke in cars are very high because of the restricted area in which the smoke is circulated. As a result, the levels of smoke in cars is far higher than those in buildings. Second-hand smoke in cars can be ten times more concentrated than the levels considered unhealthy by the US Environmental Protection Agency. For the above reasons, my Fianna Fáil colleagues and I support the Bill.

Tobacco products and smoking have a severe and negative impact on the health of the nation. Such impacts come from active smoking or from exposure to second-hand smoke.

I am an ex-smoker. I gave up smoking more than 25 years ago. It was the achievement of my life and gave me the self-confidence to conquer other challenges. I loved every cigarette I smoked. I have empathy with the people I see smoking. However, the chance of getting lung cancer if one smokes for 25 years is very high.

I commend the Bill and wish it a fruitful passage through the House.


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