Ireland bans smoking in all public places

Thursday 30 January 2003

ASH news release:  Embargo: Immediate 30th January 2003


Looking enviously across the Irish Sea, London-based ASH celebrated and saluted the decision by Ireland’s Health Minister, Micheal Martin, to introduce smoke-free requirements in all workplaces – including pubs and restaurants – within a year, from 1 January  2004.

Clive Bates, Director of the anti-tobacco campaigning group ASH, said:

It is a bold and brilliant move for public health, but all they’ve done in Ireland is to allow people to earn their living without working shrouded in clouds of toxic and cancer-inducing fumes.  It’s simple, it’s justified, and it’s cheap, but it’s not happening here in Britain.

Cigarette smoke is a serious environmental hazard, not just a minor irritant as the tobacco industry claims.   It needs to be treated more like dioxins or asbestos than merely a bad odour that clings to hair and clothes.

The contrast with Britain couldn’t be more dismal, the Irish have gone with the science and put health first.  Here in Britain it is the objections of big business lobbies that carry all clout.  Our ministers have kicked even the most modest proposals into the long grass and are more concerned about protecting the leisure industry than they are about cancer and heart disease.

They haven’t even got the guts to admit they aren’t prepared to do anything, they’ve been consulting for more than four years.  The British government talked the talk about public health and the rights of workers to a clean environment, but when it comes to actual delivery, they shuffle off wheezing their way towards a sell out.

It’s a great day for health in Ireland, and we hope this will be seen as a decisive moment across Europe. Let’s hope that British ministers take their 2004 holidays in a smoke free Ireland and learn some lessons about being bold.

Notes and links:

[1] Irish Government press release

[2] Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 (section 47) Regulations 2003 [Regulations]