Law banning smoking in cars due in weeks, Reilly says

Policy to apply when children are present would be enforcable by gardaí, Minister says

Legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are present will be ready in the next number of weeks, Minister for Health James Reilly said today. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are present will be ready in the next number of weeks, Minister for Health James Reilly said today. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Mon, Mar 24, 2014, 14:57

Legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are present will be ready in the “next number of weeks”, Minister for Health James Reilly said today.

There were “major difficulties” in preparing the legislation because of the many departments involved and a “whole host of issues” which had not been foreseen.

“One last issue” to be resolved was a “finer legal point” which the Attorney General was dealing with. “I think they are nearly there and I look forward to it very shortly.”

Dr Reilly was speaking as he attended a conference at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland to mark the 10 year anniversary of the introduction of workplace smoking legislation in Ireland.

“Nobody has the right to harm a child,” he said. He had “no doubt” gardaí would be able to enforce the law and there would also be “peer pressure from other drivers.”

The move was not about “nanny state” but about “protecting children until they are old enough to make the decision for themselves.” He described as “obscene” a situation where a three year old was in a car with an adult smoking.

The Royal College of Physicians called for the measure to be introduced to “prevent serious health problems for the next generation”.

The college also called for all publicly funded institutions, schools and childcare facilities to become completely tobacco free.

Research shows children expose to second hand smoke in cars or the home can “suffer from tobacco related illnesses for up to 25 years later,” Dr Pat Doorley, chair of the RCPI’s tobacco policy group said.

Dr Reilly also said today that the introduction of plain cigarette packaging would happen “as soon as possible”. The Government had to make sure to have “all the legal angles covered” because the tobacco industry would “turn their full might on this country and legislation to block it”, he said. He would ensure the industry did not succeed, he said.

Dr Reilly is bringing the Health Identifiers Bill 2013 on the grounds that branded cigarette products act as an inducement to children and teenagers to take up smoking.

Dr Reilly also said he would like to see e-cigarettes being brought in on a “purely medicinal advice”. The Government would “certainly” ban them for under 18. He was “concerned” about them and said “evidence based” decisions were needed. However he said they had a role in “helping people to quit” the addiction.

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