Cancer society rejects compromise on smoking ban


The Irish Cancer Society has hit out at a Government minister who yesterday called for the proposed ban on smoking in bars to be reconsidered.

The Minister for Agriculture, Mr Walsh, told the opening of a new brewery operation on Friday that he had received "strong representations" from the licensed trade concerned that thousands of jobs would be lost if the ban was implemented.

He said with six months before the ban is due to take effect on January 1st 2004, there was time to reach some sort of compromise.

But the Society today said it was "disappointed" at Minister Walsh's comments and questioned the evidence that jobs would be affected by the ban being implemented.

"The smoking ban is the most important pro-health initiative that we have seen in many years. It merits support at all levels especially from ministerial quarters," the Society said.

The ban on smoking in bars is proposed as a measure to protect workers from the effects of passive smoking. The Society said scientific evidence showed that ventilation does not prevent workers being exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS).

But the Vintners Federation of Ireland point to recently published research by the University of Glamorgan which shows exposure to passive smoking in pubs is most effectively reduced by suitable ventilation. The study included an analysis of a bar where smoking was banned.

However the Society say that while newer ventilation technologies reduced exposure by up to 90 per cent workers would still be subject to "levels 1,500 to 2,500 times the acceptable risk level".

"Experience from other countries has also shown that concerns regarding job losses are groundless and that studies to conclude same are generally of poor scientific quality," the Society said.