MOVES are under way to stub out smoking on the campus of Leinster House, forcing TDs, senators and Oireachtas staff to go out on the street if they want to light up.
It will mean those who continue to light up will be banished outside the gates to Merrion Square or Kildare St, which is frequently under seige from angry protesters.
Reformed smoker and cancer specialist, Senator John Crown wanted the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health to pass an emphatic motion calling for a complete ban on smoking in the environs of Leinster House.
However, the majority of the other members of the commitee, while supporting the ban, were successful in securing a more toned-down motion which allows for a "process of consultation first".
Dr Crown pointed to its role in cancer, respiratory illesses, heart disease and strokes.
He found the sight of people smoking in the carpark "particularly distasteful".
"The HSE is moving towards a model which will be activated in 2015 that there will be no smoking allowed anywhere on the campus of any HSE facility," he said.
"This has already happened in many hospitals," he added. "It would a wonderful flagship move if the country which was the first to ban smoking in the workplace was the first to have a smoke-free parliament."
The most important reason would be for the health of smokers themselves, he added.
He admitted that he took great umbrage if somebody told him to step outside if he wanted to smoke.
Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher recognised the danger of smoking and said he had been lectured for lighting up by Dr Crown.
He suggested: "It could be dangerous to some members' health if they have to go outside the gates for a cigarette."
He added: "You could have people waiting for them when governments inevitably get unpopular."
Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain said "voluntary compliance is the most sustainable approach to this practice".
John Crown Comment