Cancer Society welcomes proposal to ban smoking in parks and on beaches

The Irish Cancer Society is welcoming proposals by the Health Minister Dr James Reilly to introduce a ban on smoking in parks and on beaches.

The smoking ban in pubs and restaurants has been in place since 2004, but statistics show it has failed to cut the number of smokers here.

There are around a million smokers in Ireland, with the majority of those falling between the ages of 18 and 44.

Opening the Irish Heart Foundation’s Council on Stroke in Dublin on Friday, Minister Reilly said he did not want children to regard smoking as a normal practice.

Th,e Minister said it was in parks and on beaches where children were likely to observe adult behaviour. "That is where they learn what big people do."

"We don’t want children to see adults smoking in public areas," Minister Reilly said.

"Areas where we would expect lots of children to be present, as in our public parks and on our beaches, should be smoke-free zones, and I will be putting a memo to Government to that effect."

Head of advocacy with the Irish Cancer Society Cathleen O'Meara said the Minister's latest proposed ban is not just an issue of public health, it's also about denormalising smoking.

"One of t he measures that internationally is recommended… is what's called the denormalisation of smoking," Ms O'Meara said.

"The message that you are giving to young people and children is that smoking is not the norm."

However John Mallon from smoker's rights group Forest Eireann said there are more important health issues the Government should tackle.

Additional reporting: Irish Examiner

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