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New device will add fuel to passive smoking debate

A DEVICE capable of measuring the damage caused by passive smoking has been developed by a Dublin-based team of researchers.

"Smoke-rings" could add fuel to the debate about whether smoking should be banned in public places.

It will be worn around the neck and could in time be incorporated into mobile phones, according to Ronan Smith, commercial director of Media Lab Europe an alliance between the Boston-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Irish government.

Media Lab which has close to 100 researchers working on a range of projects in the Dublin Liberties showcased smoke rings at a World Health Organisation summit in Geneva last week.

He explained that as far as the "Every Day Learning Group" within Media Lab is concerned they have proven that the device works, they have developed a prototype and it is now up to a Government agency or commercial body to develop it.

While he would not say whether the Irish government has expressed an interest Mr Smith pointed out that it was a timely development given the plans for a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants here.

"I think perhaps bar staff who currently are inclined to oppose a ban might change their minds after using this to see the damage being done to them," he said.

Meanwhile a high level of active and passive smoking has been linked with with increased bronchitis symptoms in young Irish teenagers, according to a new study.

It also shows that Irish teenagers who are exposed to passive smoking at home are more likely to develop bronchitis.

The study in the Irish Medical Journal also indicates a downward trend in the numbers of teenagers who smoke cigarettes, with 19pc of those questioned admitting to lighting up.The figures for girls who smoke are also significantly higher than boys.

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