Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Protection of Children's Health from Tobacco Smoke Bill 2012: Second Stage
Sean Barrett (Independent)
This is a fantastic opportunity. The Minister can declare, as a result of the Bill so ably proposed by Senator Crown, 2 million places where smoking will no longer be permitted. There are 2 million private cars in the country out of a total of 2.5 million vehicles. We do not have smoking in the other 500,000 vehicles because they are regarded as workplaces and, accordingly, we do not smoke in buses and taxis. Nobody campaigns to have smoking re-introduced in buses and taxis. Approximately 1.2 million children will gain from the Minister designating 2 million places out of bounds as regards smoking. We could add parks and beaches but I will return to the number of 2 million, as this is a fantastic opportunity to ban smoking in 2 million cars. It strengthens what we have been doing extremely well.
Senator White referred to the smoking ban elsewhere - this is a logical extension of it – and the improvement in safety in general in transport in this country. We used to have more than 600 fatalities but it has now reduced to 180. We are making society much healthier. We might not always score highly in international banking comparisons but in this area we are leading the way in making this a healthier and better society. I commend the Minister on his leadership. Ireland is showing the world how to go.
One could ask what else we could do. It is worth examining the question of a no-claims bonus for non-smokers in health insurance as they are making positive attempts to improve their health standards. Perhaps the Minister would indicate whether that would be worth considering. There should no longer be smoking areas attached to hospitals. I accept that they have been moved away from the front doors of hospitals but it is strange that we are practising high quality medicine in hospital yet there are people smoking in the vicinity of doorways.
We might conduct research on the damage smoke does in house fires. They are appalling. When one sees on film how a fire develops, one does not have to worry about people being burned as they are destroyed by the smoke, whether the cause is due to electrical faults or people smoking in houses. Those are the next steps. This is a magnificent step forward by Senator Crown. I commend him and Senators van Turnhout, Burke and Daly. There is agreement across the House that this is worthwhile legislation. I commend it and thank the Minister for his attendance.