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« Fake news or confidence trick? | Main | Hubris before a fall »

Ireland targets al fresco smoking areas

I was going to write about the UK Vaping Industry Association Forum that I attended yesterday.

At seven o'clock this morning, however, I read a comment on this blog.

It was posted by Vinny Gracchus and included a link to a report in the Irish Times (Smoking ban to be extended to outdoor areas where food served) that I hadn't yet seen.

Vinny's link set in motion a series of actions including a hastily written press release: Forest Ireland condemns motion to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas.

Within an hour our response had been reported online by several media outlets including the Irish Examiner, Irish Daily Mirror, Today FM, Cork Evening Echo and Wicklow News.

At the same time our spokesman in Ireland, John Mallon, was booked to appear on RTE Radio One, Newstalk and LMFM Radio. Since then he's been invited to be on Ocean FM (this afternoon) and Highland Radio (tomorrow).

RTE Radio One and Newstalk put John head-to-head with Senator James Reilly, the former minister for health who campaigned religiously for plain packaging and is also driving this latest initiative.

According to the Irish Times:

An unintended consequence of the smoking ban has been the prevalence of smokers in the outdoor areas of bars, cafés and restaurants, Mr Reilly said.

“This means that nobody can enjoy a meal outdoors on a sunny day in this country, without having to inhale other people’s smoke.

“Anyone spending their hard-earned money in a restaurant or café should be entitled to enjoy their meal in a smoke-free environment.”

I'm sure I don't need to highlight the irony of the so-called "unintended consequence" but this was Forest's full response:

"The war on smoking has gone far enough. There is no justification for banning smoking outside, even where food is served.

"Smoking in the open air poses no risk to third parties and although it may occasionally be annoying for non-smokers this is a matter for the individual establishment not the government.

"If this proposal is in response to an unintended consequence of the smoking ban, which forced smokers outside, the obvious solution is to allow comfortable, well-ventilated smoking rooms indoors.

"There has been no public debate about this issue and to the best of our knowledge no consultation with the hospitality industry.

"A large number of pubs closed following the smoking ban in 2004. This proposal could have a similar impact on cafes and restaurants because many more smokers could decide to stay at home."

According to the Irish Times the current minister for health Simon Harris will today ask for Cabinet approval to extend the smoking ban to outdoor dining areas.

I'll keep you posted.

Update #1: The Irish Times has published a second report on the subject. This time the headline reads, Smokers group opposes restaurant proposals and it begins:

Restaurant proprietors should be given the option to have smoking and non-smoking outdoor eating areas, according to a smokers advocacy group.

Forest’s John Mallon told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that the market should decide if restaurant owners are willing to make this decision.

However, former Minister for Health James Reilly, who is calling on the Government to extend the ban on smoking where food is served to include outdoor areas, said he was horrified at the suggestion that the market decide health policy.

Horrified? There isn't a shred of reputable evidence to suggest that smoking in the open air endangers anyone nearby – not even a small child.

I can understand that it may be mildly unpleasant for those of a ridiculously sensitive or anti-smoking disposition, but there is no risk at all to their physical health!!

Far more horrifying is this extraordinary thought – Senator Reilly is a qualified GP.

Update #2: I hear the Restaurants Association will support the proposal while the Vintners (VFI) will oppose a ban.

The question is, will there be a public debate (or consultation) or will the Government merely rubber stamp the proposal?

Finally, if you live in the UK and are wondering if this has any relevance to you, cast your mind back to 2004 and the introduction of a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places in Ireland.

Remember what happened after that? Here's a clue:

Scotland – March 2006
Wales – April 2007
Northern Ireland – April 2007
England – July 2007

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Reader Comments (8)

The latest iteration of the Public Health (Wales) Bill has wording that makes it very possible that Wales could also introduce such a bill without going to another consultation, just like the Irish Government is proposing doing.

Add into the mix that the First Minister - Carwyn Jones - is about to step down from his role.

Who is the first Welsh AM to put his name forward into the race to become the next Welsh First Minister ?

Well, that would be none other than one (failed former Health Minister) Mark Drakeford. Yes, the very same Mark Drakeford who ended up with egg on his face when he tried to ban vaping in public enclosed spaces in an earlier version of the Bill, only to find his prize lost due to an insult by one of his colleagues against Plaid Cymru.

Apparently, Drakeford is the bookies favourite to get the role of First Minister. Personally, I cannot think of anyone less suited. If this puritanical zealot gets the role of First Minister, then you can sure his first target will be the 'low hanging fruit' and that means smoking in pub gardens etc (which he admitted he would like to have achieved the last time around). Plus, it would not surprise me to see him have a second attempt at getting vaping banned if he became First Minister as he would then have the whip to wield to his party.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 15:07 | Unregistered CommenterSimon T

Didn't they try this in Australia? Correct me if I am mistaken, but I believe one response was to stop serving food in outdoor seating areas.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 16:01 | Unregistered CommenterM. Cooper

That’s absolutely right (and the subject of my next post!) although I suspect that only a limited number of places did this. Unfortunately the most recent report is behind a paywall.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 16:47 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Smokerphobics like Rielly won't accept that smokers are customers too. They have a right to enjoy being outdoors too and it isn't made better for them by spiteful bans that seek to drive them out of their communities.

If they hate us that much, they should have segregated us instead of chucking us under the noses of the absolute intolerant whose selfish moaning, as a result of their own demands to have every single indoor place in the world to themselves, is making many lives miserables - and not least those forced out of business or work because of anti smokers' smokerphobia.

Both sides of this debate can be accommodated both indoors and outdoors and should be. Smokers pay local taxes and should be entitled to enjoy the same facilities. Smokers smoke, in case Reilly's sort have forgotten. To attack the product is to attack and exclude the person. The evidence does not justify this.

Reilly and other hysterical anti smokers are just bigoted bullies and they should be outed as such.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 17:41 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Simon, Excellent rapid response to the outdoors smoking ban gambit. I encourage all to support the resistance against this move toward outdoor smoking bans. Indeed we should be demanding indoor accommodation for smokers since the rationale fro smoking bans was areas.

There is essentially no risk from second hand smoke to others. The research does not support the extreme prohibitionist view. This needs to be countered and resistance must be firm.

They have already banned outdoor smoking patios in Canada, Australia, and are starting to do the same throughout the US.

The indoor smoking ban was based on a 'confidence trick'. They are now extending that confidence trick to seek comprehensive outdoor smoking bans. Next comes prohibition of smoking and then back to prohibition of alcohol.

It is essential that we stand up for choice and fight this totalitarian impulse for control. VG

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 22:40 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

The problem, as always, is that the majority of non-smokers won’t so much as raise an eyebrow over this extraordinarily intolerant extension of the ban. Most won’t even notice. And it’s that which emboldens bullies like Reilly to keep batting on and on and on about smoking. It’s a real shame that non-smokers, by and large, (yourself excepted, Simon!) are so self-absorbed that they can’t take the time even to pen a short note of protest or a few comments here and there just to let the powers-that-be know that they have noticed what’s going on and that they don’t like it, or the precedent that it sets. An item starting with “I’m a non-smoker, but ....” would carry so much more weight, simply because it couldn’t be kicked into the long grass with the retort that “well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?” as it can be if a smoker writes the same thing.

My inclination to write letters/comments along those very lines (as a very, very rare drinker), on behalf of my alcohol-enjoying friends, when the boozers’ time comes, diminishes by the day ...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 0:30 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Misty. Even if non smokers complained, the likes of Reilly would slander them as tobacco stooges who have some form of vested interests in the tobacco industry.

I remember some time ago a smokerphobic from the Irish heart Foundation accused me of being trained by the tobacco industry because I argued a good case on radio for leaving smokers alone.

As for consultation, we all know after the plain packs "consultation" that the vast majority of people will be ignored if the public shows it has no support for antismoker measures. The only people being heard are smokerphobic bullies but our govt should play fair and listen to both sides.

Modern consultation is a scam and there is no point to it. Antis will stamp their feet, have toddler tantrums and demand their own way if consultation goes against them as it did with plain packs and indoor blanket smoking bans.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 10:01 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

I would hate to be a member of the anti smoking mob . Imagine what its like to have so much hate in your heart for other human beings .

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 19:13 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Spalding

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