Legislation to force us to be healthier?

Sir, – I totally agree with the views of Jacky Jones that there are times when we need more legislation to force us to be healthier ("We need more legislation to force us to be healthier", Second Opinion, Health + Family, November 15th). She has also hit the nail on the head when she argues that legislation and fiscal policies have the greatest effect on health behaviour, and that smoking rates have halved in the past 20 years because of smoking laws.

With this in mind, perhaps the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Petitions will look favourably on my recent call to create a tobacco-free generation. If adopted, it would progressively increase the age at which tobacco can be sold to young persons, with a view to protecting anyone born into this century. It would not make it illegal for them to smoke, but would make it illegal to sell them tobacco products. Hopefully in 30 years or so, smoking will have been almost totally eliminated in Ireland. – Yours, etc,


Templeogue, Dublin 6W.


Sir, – That was quite the exercise in nanny statism, with Jacky Jones popping up to highlight the misbehaving most of us get up to in our private lives (in our eating, drinking, smoking and exercising).

Be assured that there is an ever-increasing contingent of people, both in this country and around the world, who could not be more opposed to yet more legislation designed to force well-informed adults, exercising their free choice, to change their behaviours.

On a somewhat more positive note, Dr Jones did acknowledge that, despite repeated information campaigns, together with the scare tactics used to force people to stop smoking, drink less, exercise more and eat healthily, the State’s own Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 confirms population health behaviours virtually identical to those found a year ago.

She forgot to mention that the State’s other smoking cessation plan (if you can call it that), ie continuing to lump excise onto cigarettes and expecting it to make a difference in a country with a booming black market, isn’t working either.

Of more concern is that, having succinctly concluded that “we must be forced to change if we are not prepared to do so voluntarily” and “like it or not more legislation is needed”, we are not given even the slightest indication as to what that legislation might look like and, more worryingly, the type of social engineering it might try to bring about.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. – Yours, etc,


Forest Ireland,