New junior health minister wants designated smoking areas in pubs and bars
THE new junior health minister has asked for more sympathy for smokers - and argued that pubs and bars should have designated indoor sections for smokers.
Finian McGrath, who is a smoker, has also said the there shouldn't be further increases in tobacco duty.
Mr McGrath is a member of the Independent Alliance and was last week given ministerial responsibility for the disability sector, and will attend Cabinet meetings as a so-called "super junior".
But while the programme for government has committed to making Ireland tobacco-free by 2025 with less than 5pc of people smoking by then, Mr McGrath has argued that the country should rollback on the smoking in workplaces ban, which was introduced in 2004.
Speaking to the Sunday Business Post, and expressing his "private, personal view", Mr McGrath said Ireland should allow smoking in designated areas in pubs and bars - something that happens in some other countries.
"I was in Portugal with the justice committee two years ago and I saw it firsthand," he said. "I was in Germany a couple of years ago and - I think it was Frankfurt - they had a similar position and I saw it working."
Ireland was the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace in 2004.
Mr McGrath nonetheless stressed he fully supported the programme for government’s commitment to making the country tobacco free.
Last week, Mr McGrath was in the headlines when he admitted he hadn't paid his charges because he is opposed to Irish Water and the way charges were implemented.
He has since indicated he will pay the bill after facing significant criticism in the Dail.