Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Protection of Children's Health from Tobacco Smoke Bill 2012: Second Stage
Mary Moran (Labour)
I add my support to the Bill and I commend the Senators on bringing it to the House. I also welcome the Minister.
Proven statistics on cancers and health related illnesses caused by second-hand smoke have long been highlighted. The ban on smoking in the workplace introduced in 2004 has been hugely successful and widely accepted throughout the country, despite initial reservations.
I am delighted to see the Bill before the House. I welcomed publicly the measure it proposes when it was raised in the House last year. I also commend health groups and welcome representatives of those groups who are in the Visitors Gallery. I acknowledge the work of ASH Ireland, which in 2008 launched a campaign to ban smoking in cars transporting children under the age of 16. I commend the Minister and agree with him we have a duty of care to our citizens and the duty is all the greater to citizens who do not have a voice, our children. That is the key fact we need to remember.
Speakers have referred to research and statistics on the dangers of second-hand smoke. Research shows passive smoke is especially harmful to children as they have a much higher respiratory and metabolic rate than adults. It is interesting that one survey carried out in 2009 showed that one in seven Irish children is exposed to second-hand smoke while travelling by car to school. That will have severe negative respiratory health effects. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke and exposure can increase the risk of respiratory diseases and even cot death. Second-hand smoke is 23 times more toxic in a car than in a bus. That is another urgent reason for the need to introduce the legislation.
We will have widespread support in the community for the change. In a recent Automobile Association, AA, poll, 85% of those surveyed agreed that smoking should be banned in cars where there are children as passengers. Passive smoking is the third most preventable cause of death in this country after direct smoking and drinking alcohol. We owe it to our children to protect them as much as we can.
I welcome the Bill to prevent children's health being harmed and to raise awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke by banning smoking in cars where children are present. I am delighted that we appear to have cross-party support. I commend the Bill to the House.