Friday 26 December 2014

Legislation banning smoking in cars with children ready in weeks, says Minister Reilly

Published 24/03/2014 | 13:00

New legislation making it illegal for adults to smoke in cars where children are passengers is expected to be ready within weeks, Health Minister James Reilly said today.

The Minister was speaking at a seminar in the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin to mark the tenth anniversary of the indoor smoking ban in public places.

“Nobody has the right to injure their child," he said.

"This is not about being a nanny state - it is about protecting children until they are old enough to make these decisions for themselves."

“Who can possibly stand over a situation where there is a three year old strapped into a car while there is an adult puffing away at the front. It is obscene.”

He said he expects the legislation to be ready in the next couple of weeks and there have been difficulties drawing it up because so many government departments are involved.

“There have been a host of issues we had not foreseen," the Minister admitted.

"It is not as simple as it appeared. I am enthusiastic about this. I have supported it in the Seanad and I have made it a priority.”

Senator John Crown , who is a cancer specialist, told the gathering that “every day in Ireland, five people get the news that they have incurable fatal lung cancer."

“In 95 per cent of cases, their illness was caused by smoking," he said.

"Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland and other western countries through numerous cancers, heart disease and stroke."

“Tobacco kills approximately 100 times more Irish people annually than illegal drugs. If it was discovered tomorrow, it would surely be illegal. Everyone knows smoking is bad for you. Most smokers want to quit. But smoking is an addiction.”

He said tobacco companies must recruit 50 new tobacco addicts daily just to replace the deaths that are caused by their own products. In 80 per cent of cases, these novice smokers are children.

"Big tobacco companies will deny the reality that its business plan can be summed up in four words: 'addict children to carcinogens'" he stressed.

"Big tobacco firms want more people smoking, whereas public health policy is aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminating tobacco use," he added.

Crown reiterated that for those particular reasons, the goals of public health and those of big tobacco are "fundamentally incompatible".

"Their relationship must be perpetually adversarial and unremittingly hostile," he added.

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