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Written Answers. - Smoking Prohibition.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 304. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  his proposals for the banning of smoking in pubs when food is being served; if he has carried out a review of the impact this ban will have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24548/02]

[1096]

 309. Ms Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  when he intends to introduce the promised legislation to ban smoking in pubs and restaurants when food is being served; the main features of the proposed regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24569/02]

 324. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  further to correspondence received from the Licensed Vintners' Association (details supplied), his views on the points raised in the correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24685/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I propose to take Questions Nos. 304, 309 and 324 together.

Section 47 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act, 2002, empowers the Minister for Health and Children to prohibit or restrict the smoking of tobacco products in many public places, including licensed premises. It is my intention to introduce new regulations in this area as soon as possible but at this stage I cannot give an exact date.

With regard to licensed premises, current regulations only ban smoking in food preparation areas. Many pubs now provide a wide range of food services and there is a growing demand from the public for smoke-free areas in pubs and the licensed trade is aware of this. Surveys have shown that there is public support for extending controls on environmental tobacco smoke.

A small number of pubs have introduced dedicated non-smoking areas on a voluntary basis. While this is welcome, I have made it clear to representatives of the licensed trade when meeting with them that much more needs to be done to afford the necessary level of protection for the public and staff from the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke. The draft regulations being prepared in my Department will include environmental controls on smoking in pubs and in restaurants.

This is the first time public access areas in pubs are being regulated with regard to providing protection from toxic environmental tobacco smoke. The proposed regulations will provide for a ban on smoking in licensed premises when food is being served and dedicated non-smoking areas comprising 30% of the floor space at all other times. To provide improved protection for staff a ban on smoking at the bar counter in licensed premises will be included.

The Licensed Vintners' Association has written to me on the issue of smoking in pubs and raised a number of concerns regarding the introduction and enforcement of any new regulations in this area. I have noted these concerns and I will contact the association in this regard. However, the reality of environmental tobacco smoke is stark. Passive smoking is a cause of disease in healthy non-smokers and being able to breathe clean air free of harmful irritating tobacco smoke is a serious health issue for everyone. It is a reasonable expectation on the part of the public that [1097] they should be afforded protection from tobacco smoke when using public areas and facilities. Optimal protection for persons is best provided for by smoke-free areas.


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