Martin plans to limit smoking in pubs
Smoking is to be totally banned in restaurants and in pubs when food is being served under tough new anti-tobacco regulations to be introduced by the Minister for Health, Mr Martin.
The Minister is also to ban smoking in all workplaces - apart from designated smoking rooms - and on trains. At present, smoking is legally prohibited only in public offices and buildings, and on the DART service and Arrow trains.
Mr Martin told The Irish Times last night that as well as banning smoking in pubs during mealtimes, publicans will also have to provide smoke-free zones on their premises. He is also looking at banning smoking at bar counters due to the ill effects of smoking on bar staff. The Minister said he hoped to have draft regulations widening the ban on smoking published shortly. Mr Martin was strongly criticised for not including a blanket ban on smoking in pubs in the Public Health (Tobacco) Bill 2002. At the time he was accused of not doing so to placate the powerful publicans' lobby.
Mr Martin has had discussions with the vintners on the partial smoking ban in public houses in recent weeks, and is due to have more discussions once the draft regulations are published. The latest regulations are believed to be the first step towards an outright ban on smoking in licensed premises.
The Minister has the power to extend the ban on smoking in public places, including licensed premises and trains, by regulation under Section 47 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act.
Mr Martin said last night that smoking was the greatest killer in the country and had a huge impact on the health services. "We have to do better on this issue for the sake of future generations."