Call to ban smoking at gates of city schools

Cormac Murphy

A PROPOSAL has been put before Dublin City Council to ban smoking outside schools.

Fine Gael councillor Mary O'Shea wants to discourage the habit and prevent littering.

She tabled a motion at the council's environment and engineering strategic policy committee (SPC).

"People have made complaints to me. There is a big secondary school beside me in Glasnevin and there is lots of littering, particularly from cigarette butts," said Cllr O'Shea.

"In Spain, they included outside schools and playgrounds in their smoking ban. If you can do it in Spain, why not here?"

The councillor said zones around schools should be made no smoking areas.

"I think it would discourage (students) from gathering in gangs as well. It makes sense because it gets them to think about the dangers of smoking," she added.

In her motion, she called on the SPC to "examine ways in which it can prevent littering outside schools".

Cllr O'Shea added that "disregarded cigarettes" are a "major cause of littering".

She said she wanted the committee's examination "to include an exploration of ways in which a prohibition on smoking in close proximity to schools may be introduced".

However, the councillor admitted the proposal may have to be implemented by way of Government legislation, rather than local authority byelaws.

New anti-smoking laws introduced in Spain on January 2 are among the toughest in Europe.

The measures banned smoking at playgrounds and outside schools and hospitals. They also made it illegal to smoke at airports, nightclubs and casinos.

In 2004, Ireland became the first European country to implement a workplace smoking ban.

Research published in 2009 showed teenagers who smoke believe they are not healthy but persist as they think it is "cool".

In a poll of teens aged between 16 and 18 who buy their own cigarettes, most were found to have started smoking as young as 12 or 13.

The move from primary to secondary school was a trigger, with teenagers saying they used cigarettes as a coping mechanism to manage everyday stress.

Other findings showed that 20-30pc tried unsuccessfully at some point to quit smoking, while the majority believed they would eventually stop.