THE anti-smoking campaign group ASH Ireland today welcomed reports that new legislation to ban smoking in cars with children could be introduced later this year.
The draft legislation has been approved by health minister James Reilly, and it will see both passengers and drivers could face large fines for smoking in a commercial or private vehicle carrying children under the age of 16.
“ASH Ireland first raised this issue, as a possible health initiative, with Minister Harney in 2005,” chairman Dr Ross Morgan said in a statement.
“In April 2010 ASH Ireland met the newly appointed Minister James Reilly and again pushed for this health initiative to be introduced - and then received a commitment from the Minister that he would proceed as soon as was feasible.
“We now again encourage the Minister to ensure that there are no further delays with a proposal, which has been with his Department for over seven years” Dr Morgan added.
It is thought that the new legislation could be enacted in July.
However, smokers' lobby group Forest Éireann has criticised the plans as “disproportionate, illiberal and a distraction from the many more serious issues facing our country”.
Spokesman John Mallon said that while his organisation does not condone adults who smoke in vehicles carrying children, it believed education is far better than legislation.
“For most people their car is a private space so this is a worryingly illiberal step," he said.
"What next? A ban on smoking in the home if children are present?”