Seanad debates

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

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


5:00 pm

Photo of Catherine NooneCatherine Noone (Fine Gael)

I congratulate Senators John Crown, Mark Daly and Jillian van Turnhout on introducing this Bill. It is a good idea that I firmly favour. I do not wish to repeat what other Senators have said, but the evidence, both in quality and volume, is clear that passive smoking poses an immediate danger to both adults and children.

One aspect that concerned me during the public debate was the emergence of a pro-smoking lobby in Ireland. Forest Ireland holds an absurd abstract notion that the rights and freedoms of smokers are somehow sacrosanct and above those of non-smokers. Cultural acceptance of an immoral industry which uses lobby groups and public affairs firms in Ireland should be stopped. The organisation seeks to infiltrate the Irish media and influence commentary on the industry, while advocating alternative viewpoints, with funding given to it by smoking lobbyists in the United Kingdom. It is a disgrace.

The Bill is visionary, much like the ban on smoking in workplaces such as pubs. The evidence on the effects of passive smoking can be stacked up, with a certain amount of deaths attributable to the effects of second-hand smoke. I am certain the public health advantages far outweigh the argument of the restriction on perceived personal liberties. Passive smoking poses a significant danger, both in the short and medium term. According to the World Health Organization, some 40% of all children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home, with young children exposed to second-hand smoke at home being up to twice as likely to start smoking as those not so exposed. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke, in respect of which Senator John Crown has given us details. As a result, asthma and lung infections are more common in children who grew up around smokers.

Senator Colm Burke mentioned section 3(2)(i). Perhaps the age limit of 18 years could be reduced to cater for 17 year old drivers.

I join other speakers in making the point that this legislation shows how effective the Seanad can be. I commend the Bill to the House.


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