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Kicking butt

• Senator John Crown's failure to make the grounds of Leinster House completely smoke free must be hailed as a victory for common sense (Friday, November 16).

Excessive regulation has already heaped indignity on smokers, with hospital patients and pub-goers alike forced to huddle outside if they want to enjoy a cigarette.

For smoking to be banned altogether at Leinster House would send quite the wrong signal in what is supposed to be a tolerant and liberal society. The Health Committee deserves credit for putting common sense ahead of zealotry and blocking Prof Crown's proposal.

The logical extension of banning smoking in the grounds of Leinster House is that we prohibit it in parks, on the beach and in the street. None of these measures can be easily policed, nor would we want them to be.

Prof Crown says his move is "for the smokers' own benefit". I would respectfully suggest that responsible adults are better placed than he is to decide what is for their own benefit.

We all know the risks of smoking. But we must be careful as a society not to go too far. Life is full of risks. If we try to eliminate all risks through draconian legislation we create a society of busybodies, snitches, snoopers and law-breakers.

John Mallon
Forest Eireann, Cork

Irish Independent