Smok­ing room sug­ges­tion a huge mis­take

Bray People - - OPINION -

JUST when you think that the mes­sage had sunk in about the dan­gers of smok­ing and in­deed pas­sive smok­ing, along comes Finian McGrath. The new Ju­nior Health Min­is­ter has sug­gested that pubs and restau­rants should be able to open des­ig­nated ‘smok­ing rooms’ go­ing for­ward.

What planet is he on? The smok­ing ban was one of the most suc­cess­ful pieces of leg­is­la­tion ever to be passed in Ire­land and now, years af­ter all the hype has died down, he wants to bring back smok­ing rooms.

Is that not what out­door smok­ing ar­eas and beer gar­dens have served as al­ready? It is bad enough hav­ing ‘out­door’ ar­eas stuffed with smoke with­out al­lo­cat­ing more room.

I just can­not see the logic in this. Any smoker I have spo­ken to has agreed that the smok­ing ban has done won­ders and that once the habit of go­ing out­side to smoke was adopted, it was as if it was al­ways that way.

Let’s not for­get the rea­son be­hind the ban - to re­duce the health risks as­so­ci­ated with smok­ing for non-smok­ers and staff mem­bers.

We are all en­ti­tled to smoke if we wish, but in­flict­ing sec­ond hand smoke on oth­ers is un­ac­cept­able. The sit­u­a­tion was so bad be­fore the ban but the true ex­tent of it wasn’t ap­par­ent un­til we re­alised the joy of eat­ing a meal with­out be­ing cloaked in cig­a­rette smoke.

Smok­ing and non-smok­ing sec­tions are not a so­lu­tion and it would be a ter­ri­ble mis­take to back­track on the progress made to date. Deputy McGrath’s sug­ges­tion comes af­ter he noted sim­i­lar sys­tems in other EU coun­tries.

Just be­cause other EU states have this ap­proach to pub­lic smok­ing, doesn’t mean it would be the right de­ci­sion for Ire­land. Th­ese ar­eas would still have to be staffed and no­body should be ex­pected to work in an en­vi­ron­ment that could be detri­men­tal to their health.

Any pro­posal that would be seen to en­cour­age smok­ing or make it more ap­peal­ing to peo­ple would be a mis­take and would send the mes­sage that there is no harm is so­cial smok­ing.

While it is not a Health Min­is­ter’s place to try and force any­one to quit smok­ing it they do not want to, it is his duty to pro­mote health and to in­tr­duce mea­sures to en­cour­age us to look af­ter our phys­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing as much as we can.

We are all en­ti­tled to smoke, but in­flict­ing sec­ond hand smoke on oth­ers is un­ac­cept­able.

with Deb­o­rah Cole­man

straight talk­ing

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