Move to ban smoking in all Leinster House fails


A move to ban smoking on the whole grounds of Leinster House and make it the first smoke-free parliament in the world failed yesterday.

Putting the motion to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, Independent Senator John Crown said if the Health Service Executive’s move to ban smoking on all hospital campuses was “good enough for poor sick patients who are stuck in hospital beds and the staff who work in hospitals, it should be good enough for our parliamentarians”.

Addressing the committee, the Senator, who is a consultant oncologist, said: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have the first smoke-free parliament? People will say that this is nanny state-ism, that it is anti-libertarian. Tosh – that’s addiction thinking.”

Fianna Fáil spokesman on health Billy Kelleher said while efforts should be made to discourage people from smoking, other health factors needed to be considered. “It could be dangerous to some members’ health to go outside the gates and have a cigarette because they’d have people outside there waiting for them at particular times when governments inevitably get unpopular.”

Prof Crown said: “If people are afraid to go out in the street and have a cigarette because they will face the wrath of an inflamed electorate, stop smoking.”

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said while he was supportive of the idea of ending smoking on the Leinster House campus, consultation with staff and voluntary compliance would send out a stronger message.

He put forward an amendment that the committee “affirms its strong support of its efforts to reduce smoking; calls for a process of consultation with all who work in Leinster House in the creation of a smoking-free campus”.