Senator's smoking ban fails to ignite

 

A motion put forward by Senator John Crown to ban smoking on the Leinster House campus failed to reach a vote today.

Putting the motion to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, Senator Crown said that if the HSE’s move to prohibit 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,” he said. “That’s addiction thinking.”

Prof Crown said as a former smoker, he could speak with authority on the matter.

He said of those who would query why they are being made to go out onto Merrion Square or Kildare Street to smoke, he said “remember that all they are asking you to do is to facilitate their own slow suicide”.

Responding to the motion, 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 member’s 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,” he 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”, Prof Crown responded.

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

Mr Ó Caoláin put forward an amended motion that the committee instead “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”.

Opposed by Prof Crown, Mr Ó Caoláin said he was demonstrating, "the total refusal of the considered remarks of those there".

Prof Crown and Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick voted against the amended motion which was carried by 12 votes to two.

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