Seanad Éireann - Volume 169 - 07 March, 2002
Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001: Second Stage (Resumed).
Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Mrs. Jackman Mrs. Jackman
Mrs. Jackman: I welcome the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources to the House, although the absence of the Minister for Health and Children is unfortunate. As a member of the Joint Committee on Health and Children, I am familiar with the two reports produced by it. The two rapporteurs were Deputies Shatter and Gay Mitchell. A tremendous amount of research was undertaken by the joint committee and many presentations and submissions were heard and read. Dr. Fenton Howell from Action on Smoking and Health made a very interesting presentation and his recommendations were welcomed both by the Minister and the Opposition.
Although this matter has been debated continually in the two years since those reports were produced, I welcome this opportunity of highlighting, once again, the serious issues associated with tobacco. The statistics are still shocking. Has there been a decrease in the number of people smoking, particularly young people, in the year since the Minister introduced his Bill in the Dáil? Has the 50p increase in excise duty on a packet of cigarettes caused a reduction in smoking? The joint commitee was convinced that increasing the price of cigarettes would be a deterrent and I would welcome ongoing research and evaluation of this measure.
One wonders whether people are immune to statistics. Tobacco kills between 6,500 and 7,000 people every year. I have been told that the figure for deaths from tobacco in 2001 was 5,700, which represents a small reduction, but nonetheless a huge number of people. It is estimated that 31% of the population smoke and that a huge percentage of children are smoking before they reach the age of 18 years.
The joint committee heard an interesting presentation last week from a witness from California regarding the banning of smoking in public houses. He suggested that if smoking was banned in public houses, the 70% of people who do not smoke would come back to public houses. The banning of smoking in bars in California has had no negative effect on their turnover. Some might argue that public houses in this country are very different from bars in California. I do not believe that is so because there are now Irish pubs throughout the world. Many concerned about environmental tobacco smoke or who do not like to have their clothes reeking of tobacco have returned to bars in California where the measure has had no negative effect. I am sure the same would be true here. The Minister could have banned smoking totally in public houses.
  We are all concerned at the large number of deaths from lung cancer, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. I am concerned at the large number of young women who smoke, particularly in the lower socio-economic groups. As a teacher, I was concerned by the number of first year pupils already addicted to tobacco at the age of 12 years. Many parents dismissed concerns by saying they would prefer their daughters to be smoking tobacco than taking drugs. This attitude underlies much parental thinking with regard to smoking among young girls.
I do not understand the reason stark statistics have not persuaded more people to give up smoking, but I am sure it is easier said than done. I am a non-smoker and do not like to dictate to others, but in my experience it is amost impossible to persuade people to give up cigarettes, which highlights the fact that tobacco is certainly addictive.
I had hoped the identity card would be introduced. There are many ways for young people to acquire cigarettes, despite the abolition of the packet of ten cigarettes.
By 2030 there will be 10 million deaths from smoking worldwide per year and smoking will cause one in every six deaths. There are now 1.1 billion smokers worldwide and by 2025 that figure is expected to have risen to 1.6 billion. There is definite evidence that nicotine is more addictive than heroin or cocaine. The joint committee was also told that most smokers do not continue to smoke out of choice, but because they are addicted to nicotine.
Dr. Luke Clancy, consultant respiratory physician in St. James's Hospital, spoke at a recent conference about the effects of environmental tobacco smoke. It was the danger of ETS which persuaded Californians to ban smoking in all public places. Those exposed to ETS have a 20% to 30% increased risk of contracting lung cancer, a huge percentage. I am simply giving the facts as enunciated at the conference by Dr. Clancy. He said the same substances are present, even if in lower dosages, when second-hand smokers inhale. It is shocking that one is a victim of smokers when one is in an environment where there is tobacco smoke.
It is well documented that smoking in pregnancy has an adverse effect in terms of low birth weights, perinatal deaths and suddent infant deaths. It is extraordinary to see so many young women smoking during pregnancy, despite the negative indicators. Some of them who give up smoking during the nine months cannot wait to smoke again. I am aware of one girl whose baby was barely born when she went out to have a cigarette. She had the gumption and strength of character to give up smoking for the nine months, but it shows the latent addiction that the cigarette was the first thing she sought. In the United States no gynaecologist will take a pregnant woman who smokes or drinks as his or her patient. That is a fact of life. His or her concern is litigation, but I wonder how strongly gynaecologists and general practitioners speak to pregnant  women about giving up cigarettes during the nine months.
The effects are not only seen during pregnancy, but also in later stages in childhood. When I was teaching I noticed a tremendous increase in the incidence of asthma among young girls. The incidence of asthma, middle ear infection disease and other respiratory illnesses increases in children of smoking parents. When one thinks of the difficulties parents experience dealing with these diseases it is astounding that young women continue to smoke. The lure of the cigarette despite the negative effects is striking.
The concerns regarding health are extraordinarily important. This relates not only to the money that must be spent eliminating disease, but also to the quality of life and the lower life expectancy of those who smoke. It is extraordinary that despite all the interventions to help smokers the addiction is so strong they continue to smoke. One point that disturbed me enormously was contained in a letter from a representative of the company, John Player and Sons. He stated the company would have been happy to have been involved in discussions with those who were drafting the policy on tobacco control. He went on to say the company welcomed new legislation, but that some provisions were disproportionate and unbalanced. He continued: “Unfortunately, no invitation to attend the Joint Committee on Health and Children to discuss the Bill was received by John Player and Sons, which would have allowed us to communicate our views on this proposal, both positive and negative, to the members of the committee.”
However, on 1 June 2001, the same company wrote that it had to decline the sub-committee's request to attend the joint committee. These are double standards. The company stated it had been advised that the objectives of the joint committee were in excess of jurisdiction and, therefore, unlawful. This was primarily because the intention of the joint committee was to assist litigation against tobacco companies in Ireland. In what world are they living? The company wanted an input to the Bill in order to control what the Minister was trying to do and allow more smoking. These were two contradictory letters.
The tobacco companies also took the joint committee members for amadáns when we raised the issue of addiction to which Dr. Howell referred in his presentation. It was stated smoking was as addictive as surfing the Internet. Whatever about addiction to chocolate, which leads one to become overweight but has not killed anybody, the comparison with addiction to surfing the Internet was trite and dismissive in relation to what the committee was trying to do. That says it all with regard to where the tobacco companies stand. They could not care less other than to increase the number of young children who smoke.
John Player and Sons, the letter states, “neither wants nor encourages children to smoke.” I won der who believes that. It continued: “We believe that the risks associated with smoking are well known and that adults should be allowed to choose whether or not to smoke.” The company went on to question the fact that the Bill would remove any possibility for manufacturers operating in the Irish market to communicate to their existing adult consumers about certain aspects of their products “or to successfully introduce new products onto the market.” The company stated it could not do its business because the Bill excluded it from doing so. It stated this is disproportionate and “likely to infringe constitutional protections, including intellectual property rights and certain competition rules and other EU internal market principles.”
Another point should be raised. We seldom get an opportunity to consider the tobacco companies' stance on this issue. They state they share the Government's goals of combating under age smoking and ensuring a regulatory environment is established that is workable, fair and proportionate. I do not believe that. We have been told that molasses and sweeteners are among the ingredients of cigarettes because they hook young people on smoking. We also believe that in their aggressive marketing they are seeking to replace the smokers they lose. Their targets are young people.
The one way the tobacco companies will be beaten – this point was emphasised at the conference – is to tell young people they are the targets, that they will be dictated to by the sophisticated and subtle pressure on them to be smokers and that they should not allow any tobacco company to dictate their lifestyle, especially when their health will be so badly affected if they smoke. I see nothing positive in how the tobacco companies believe they will address the issue of young people and the effects of smoking on their health.
What were the joint committee's recommendations? They ran to several pages. I am trying to be positive towards the Bill, but I am extremely concerned about the Office of Tobacco Control. It will have powers of enforcement, but I am concerned about the resources that will be given to it to ensure it will be effective. I received a letter from the voluntary group concerned with tobacco control. It has branches in 12 counties and asked me to stress the point that resources must be provided to implement the Bill. One can have good legislation, but it must be enforced, monitored and eventually evaluated. This will have to take place on a daily basis given the tremendously negative impact of smoking on everybody. That is the most important point in relation to the Bill.
The joint committee recommended that at least £20 million per annum be spent on a comprehensive anti-smoking strategy. In all the presentations it received, the most interesting point made was that instead of giving moneys to various groups, it would be better to channel all funding to a specific group to address the issues involved. Otherwise there is duplication and it  will take longer to evaluate the effects of implementing the legislation and whether we are getting value for money as regards enforcement.
Mr. Moylan Mr. Moylan
Mr. Moylan: I compliment the Minister of State, Deputy Hanafin, on her speech in which she outlined the many important points in the Bill. The Public Health (Tobacco) Bill is one of the most important brought before the Oireachtas while the battle against tobacco is one of the most important health challenges facing the country. It is and must remain a health priority. The Bill is the most comprehensive anti-tobacco legislation ever introduced and confirms the Government's commitment to the fight against the tobacco epidemic.
Tobacco use and, in particular, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness in Ireland. Smoking-related illnesses account for 7,000 deaths annually in Ireland and a total of 500,000 deaths throughout the European Union. Tobacco can kill in many ways, including lung and other forms of cancer, heart disease, strokes and other respiratory diseases. The Minister of State outlined the difficulties we face in this area. The total of 7,000 deaths each year is frightening and must bring a message home to everybody. Most smokers recognise the dangers and the increasing social unacceptability of smoking and wish to break their addictions. People must also be protected against the dangers of toxic environmental tobacco smoke. There are no smoking areas in bars and restaurants and these improvements are welcome. While it is recognised that there have been improvements, we have a long way to go.
Life expectancy in Ireland is lower than the EU average and the diseases which contribute primarily to this are heart disease and cancer. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of these diseases. Smoking is a major factor in approximately 90% of deaths from lung cancer annually and increases the risk of other cancers, such as mouth and throat cancer. Smoking is also a primary cause of cardiovascular disease and is the greatest cause of mortality in Ireland. People can cite the number of people who die who never smoked, but a significant number die as a result of smoking-related illnesses.
The Bill includes strong measures to tackle the tobacco epidemic on a number of fronts. It provides for a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, including in-store advertising and displays, and on all forms of sponsorship by the tobacco industry. Tobacco advertising is intended to increase consumption as well as brand share and has a powerful effect on young people. The legislation also provides for registration of tobacco retailers and tougher penalties for those convicted of underage sales. Compliance with existing laws, especially in regard to sales to minors, has been poor. Surveys have highlighted that many under age people can purchase tobacco products over the counter from retailers without being asked to produce any evidence of their age.
 The legislation will provide for comprehensive powers of enforcement and will introduce a range of penalties commensurate with the offences. The age limit for the sale of tobacco products to young persons was raised from 16 to 18 years, which was welcome, and a maximum fine for persons convicted of selling tobacco products to under age persons was increased substantially on foot of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2001. These measures are enhanced in the legislation and will act as a further deterrent to retailers.
A ban on retail sales of packs of cigarettes of less than 20 is welcome. Price is the most effective means of protecting children against experimenting with cigarettes and becoming addicted. Increasing the maximum pack size that may be sold raises the price barrier for children. Some people believe this also affects elderly people who have smoked all their lives and who will have difficulty paying for larger packs. However, this provision must be examined from the perspective of preventing young people taking up smoking. Small packs and cheaper prices are significant contributory factors to the number of young people who take up smoking.
There will be tighter controls on the sale of products from vending machines. Many cigarette vending machines located in licensed premises and elsewhere are often out of the sight of staff and there is no supervision, which gives unrestricted access to cigarettes to under age people. That has been a major problem for a long time. The Bill provides for much tighter control on all aspects of tobacco retailing, including vending machines. Machines will have to be located beside or behind bar counters and under the direct supervision of staff and that is welcome. I compliment the Minister and his officials on inserting that provision. Co-operation is needed between health officials and owners of premises regarding the location of such machines. This issue was widely discussed by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, but the location is negotiable and there is room to facilitate all concerned.
The legislation provides for a ban on the sale of confectionery normally intended for children which resemble tobacco products. That is a worthwhile provision. The Minister of State said the sale of confectionery to children in the form of tobacco products helps build an unhealthy relationship between children and such products. Some of the candy cigarette packets on sale in shops are difficult to distinguish from packets of cigarettes.
With regard to public disclosure of all aspects of tobacco, including toxicity and addiction, the Bill provides the proposed tobacco control agency with powers to obtain information from manufacturers relating to consumption and the properties of tobacco products and to test such products. In addition, health warnings and batch numbering will be mandatory on all packs. The industry will have to meet a high threshold of dis closure about the toxicity and addictiveness of its products and the public will be truthfully and fully informed about these products. The case was made at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children that it was very difficult for manufacturers to do so but, no matter how difficult it is, the Department is correct to ensure health warnings are printed on packs and consumers can read about what is in the packs.
Tobacco smoke is the greatest source of indoor air pollution. Environmental tobacco smoke is a real and substantial health hazard, especially to infants, children and persons with heart and lung diseases. It is reasonable that the public should not be involuntarily exposed to tobacco smoke. I support the extension of the environmental controls on smoking to a range of public areas and facilities not already covered by existing legislation and regulations. There is an onus on property owners to provide proper ventilation and departmental officials must examine premises to ensure that is the case. In many premises ventilation is very poor and must be improved. The Tobacco Control Agency will monitor, co-ordinate and, in certain circumstances, enforce and report on new tobacco policy initiatives. It will drive the implementation of many of the Bill's provisions and also co-operate with all relevant agencies in working towards a tobacco free society.
Advertising is mentioned in the Bill, but we can only act locally. However, we can see tobacco advertising and sponsorship at many sports events shown on television. Sponsorship by tobacco companies has disappeared and I would not be sorry if sponsorship by alcohol companies also went. There is an onus on Government do this and the quicker it happens the better.
As a member of a health board who visits many hospitals and other institutions, I see a large number of elderly people barely able to draw breath as a result of smoking cigarettes for much of their lives. Many of them give up cigarettes when it is too late and makes no difference.
The Bill is important at this time. I congratulate the Minister and his officials on bringing it through the Dáil and now the Seanad in order that it may be enacted before the general election. It will result in a better environment in which our young people can live. We talk about young people smoking which certainly has a serious effect on those who get involved in sports and sports organisations. One has only to look at the difference in fitness and sporting performance between young people who do and do not smoke.
There is one small point that affects some elderly people who have been smoking all their lives and will never give up cigarettes. The extra cost involved in the change from having boxes of ten to only having boxes of 20 will cause some problems for them. The Bill makes changes affecting vending machines and where cigarettes may be stored in shops and pubs. We must be prepared to co-operate with those involved in those busi nesses in order that they can meet the requirements of the Bill without excessive cost to them. I wish the Minister and his officials well with this most welcome Bill.
Dr. Henry Dr. Henry
Dr. Henry: I wish to share my time with Senator Quinn. I very much welcome the Bill of the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin. It is interesting that the Minister of State, Deputy Jacob, was sent here to bring it before the House. It is ironic that he is normally sent here when we are discussing fears regarding Sellafield and we are considering a potential danger. In this instance we are dealing with a real danger and a real cause of human mortality, yet the Minister of State's responsibility for nuclear issues receives so much more time than this absolute danger and cause of mortality.
I warmly congratulate the Minister for Health and Children on introducing the Bill. I also congratulate those involved in pressurising the Department to bring it forward. I particularly congratulate Dr. Fenton Howell of ASH, the Action on Smoking and Health group which has tried for so many years to get us to make efforts on this issue. I am delighted he is present in the Visitors Gallery of the House.
I would like to start by quoting from his Doolin lecture in 2001 entitled, Towards a Tobacco Free Society: Should We Care? Of course, we should care. He carefully outlined how long people have known that tobacco was harmful. King James I introduced a tobacco tax in 1601, not to raise revenue but because he hated the smell of smoke so much. For 400 years we have known it is unpleasant, but since 1950 when Doll and Hill described the relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, we have known how really serious this issue is for people's health.
As Senators Jackman and Moylan have outlined the various problems brought on our health by smoking, I will not go through them again. With the exception of a really serious diabetic, I have never known a person to lose a leg apart from a smoker. We think of mortality, but not of the morbidity associated with the smoking of cigarettes, cigars and other forms of tobacco. In women there is a higher incidence of cervical cancer among those who smoke than those who do not because nicotine affects the cell division of the DNA within the cells of our bodies. It is a most serious issue and it is sad that it has taken until now to get to grips with it. The problems of passive smoking are sometimes minimised in the press. However, the problems of passive smoking for small children are really quite dreadful. I warmly welcome the Bill and I am sure it will pass through the House as quickly as possible. I will not table any amendments because the Bill has been very well dealt with in the other House.
It is interesting that the Minister is urged to do something about anthrax and smallpox in case we have such epidemics here, but the likelihood of either of these is pretty remote. However, I do not see the same kind of public adulation for him  because he is trying to do something about tobacco regulation for which he is to be warmly applauded.
The environmental health officers have done an enormous amount to implement existing legislation and I hope this Bill will give them even more help. There are two things I would like to point out, but I will not table amendments because to do so would delay the Bill. I wish only those over 18 years of age were allowed to sell cigarettes. It is a pity that this is not included because young people may be pressurised by their friends to sell cigarettes to them. I presume the Bill will help the Garda which has to enforce the law governing the sale of smuggled cigarettes. I sometimes work on the north side of Dublin city in which there are areas where one might believe it was quite legal to sell cigarettes on the street. The trade in smuggled cigarettes needs to be tackled with a sense of urgency.
Sometimes environmental health officers must have children purchase cigarettes in front of them in order that they can take cases against retailers. It is important the court process does not cause too much trouble for these volunteer children. This is not really part of the Bill – it is part of the court process – but I ask the Minister to bear it in mind. If something needs to be done in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Minister concerned should do it. It is important to protect these young people, particularly if they need to give evidence through video cameras.
I hope the Bill supports all the various methods in the new treatment of tobacco use and dependence. I have a copy of the New England Journal of Medicine of 14 February this year and it is amazing what is included in it in terms of the strategies and evidence which can be brought forward through interventions to try to reduce the amount of smoking which takes place here. It is not all doom and gloom. Some 30 years ago 45% of the population smoked; it is now 30%. However, we must have different strategies for different groups. Young women who feel they will get fat if they do not smoke must be considered in a different manner from people in their 60s with chronic obstructive airway disease. I hope that happens. I warmly welcome the Bill.
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
Mr. Quinn: I thank Senator Henry for agreeing to share her time with me. I must declare two interests. The first is that I am a non-smoker, although I am beginning to realise that is not the proper way to describe it. I am not an active smoker but, like everyone else and through no choice of my own, I am a passive smoker. The dangers of passive smoking are only now beginning to receive full attention. That issue will continue to drive the continuing campaigns of successive Ministers against smoking in public places. The argument against smoking has moved on from considering what damage smokers do to themselves to what damage they do to others.
 The second interest I must declare is that I sell cigarettes. I do not have any choice in that matter because as long as it remains legal to sell cigarettes in this country, it would be commercial suicide for someone in a company such as mine to refuse to sell a product which a large proportion of customers wish to buy. We have always taken a view that the customers, not the company, decide who buys what in our shops. As I make money from selling cigarettes, anything I say in support of the Bill may appear hypocritical. I must plead guilty on that count, but I will not lose much sleep over it because I am not the only one who is hypocritical. The Government is also hypocritical because it makes much money from tax on cigarettes.
I am concerned about making the Bill work. Senator Henry said that the number of people smoking has been reduced from 45% to 30% in 30 years. I would like smoking eliminated, but how can we do that? In 1919 the American Government decided to do away with alcohol and it introduced Prohibition. However, 13 years later, in 1932, it reintroduced alcohol because it realised that something it tried to do did not work. Like the Wilson Government in 1919, which had the worthy objective of banning alcohol, we must ensure the Bill, with its worthy objective, works. I support any steps we must take to ensure that happens.
Is the Bill landmark legislation? Landmark legislation banned advertising on television and billboards. The Bill is not landmark legislation and perhaps the Minister is right not to make it so. If it ended up the same way as America did with Prohibition, it would not work. He must strike a balance because he does not want to go too far if it means he does not succeed. Britain, for example, has the most expensive cigarettes in Europe, but approximately 33% of all cigarettes are sold under the counter and the Government does not get tax on them. Legitimate taxpayers are not involved. Some £6 billion worth of cigarettes are sold in illegal cigarette trading. We must ensure we take the necessary steps.
That may be the reason the Minister has decided not to ban cigarette smoking in pubs and restaurants. I know he said this is enabling legislation which means a future Minister could decide to do that. This may be the reason he has decided to give way to the publican lobby. We have always recognised the publican lobby. However, I do not understand the policy about vending machines. Under the legislation, if one goes into a shop, there must not be any sign of cigarettes or the container which holds cigarettes. It must be hidden under the counter. However, if one goes into a pub, a hotel or a licensed premises, the vending machine is visible. I know there are restrictions and perhaps the Minister, when he is making the regulations, will take into account the difficulties faced by people who cannot read and, therefore, do not know that they must use a vending machine or who are not allowed to see the name of the cigarettes. I do not understand how  the Minister can make one law for the country and exclude those who sell cigarettes in public houses, hotels and licensed premises. It does not make sense. I assume the Minister has the power in the legislation to do something about that.
Section 37(7) seems to suggest the Minister is not holding on to any power. I am concerned about the power being given to the office of tobacco control. I do not understand how it will work. There is a danger of a constitutional challenge to the legislation. Since I am anxious to ensure that we restrict the sale of cigarettes, I want to ensure the legislation works. However, we seem to have taken from the Judiciary and given to an office the right to take away the livelihood of someone who sells cigarettes for three or 12 months and to do so without recall. It does not seem that the office has any choice. It must remove the licence of someone who is found guilty of a breach of the law in this area. I challenge whether that is the right way to proceed.
I will give the example of what happened in the legislation dealing with the sale of alcohol to young people. Anyone who was found guilty of selling alcohol to young people could lose their licence. However, that was not done in spite of the many cases where alcohol was sold to under age people. Different legislation was introduced 15 months ago – the sin bin legislation. For years practically no one was sent off the field in rugby football for a grievous offence because it would ruin the game. Then the sin bin was introduced which meant the game was not ruined because someone was just sent off for ten minutes. That is similar to the alcohol legislation. If one is found guilty of selling alcohol to young people, the judge can decide to remove the licence for a short period of time, such as a week, a day or an hour. I understand from the Garda that many judges around the country use it because it does not deprive a publican and his or her employees of a livelihood. It is sin bin legislation which means someone can be punished, but it will not take away his or her livelihood. I would love to see something similar introduced in the Bill.
I fear the legislation will not work because it is too draconian. When someone is found guilty of selling cigarettes to a young person – let us assume unintentionally – and those charged with the duty of making a decision inform him or her that they will lose their licence and will not be allowed to sell cigarettes for three or six months, depending on the offence, we will be faced with the same situation that arose in respect of the sale of alcohol to young people.
I urge the Minister of State to take into account the fact that everyone wants this legislation to work. We recognise that many people depend on the sale of cigarettes for their livelihoods and, as a society, we do not want to deprive them of that source of income immediately. Let us ensure that there is a balance in the legislation by encouraging the Minister of State to take account of the  points I have raised on Committee and Report Stages. Let us ensure that it achieves its objective, namely, improving the situation and reducing the number of cigarettes smoked.
Mr. Bohan Mr. Bohan
Mr. Bohan: I support many of the Minister of State's endeavours to reduce the number of young people who smoke. In my opinion, however, the Bill contains a number of panic measures which are draconian in nature.
Smoking affects different people in different ways. As a young man I did everything in my power to become addicted to cigarettes. I smoked 60 Afton Major a day for a long period. These cigarettes did not come with filters in those days but I still did not become addicted. Subsequently, I tried smoking cigars and a pipe, but to no avail. As already stated, smoking affects different people in different ways. Even Winston Churchill, who smoked strong cigars for most of his life, lived to be over 90 years of age so, obviously, smoking did not do him much harm.
Statements have been made about this matter which are not factual. I wish to provide an example relating to the licensed trade to support my argument. At a conference organised by the Office of the Director of Tobacco Control, an American professor claimed that 150 Irish bar workers risk dying each year from passive smoking. This assertion is seriously at variance with the factual experience of workers in the Dublin licensed trade. A scheme for bar employees was established in 1974. At present, there are 900 active participants and 280 pensioners attached to this scheme. Since 1995, 71 pensioners, 69 of whom were barmen, involved with the scheme have died. This means that an average of a little less than ten per year have died. An analysis of these pensioners' ages, as recorded on their death certificates, has been carried out and the following are the results: three or 4.3% died between the ages of 55 to 60; five or 7.2% died between 61 and 65; 14 or 20.3% died between 66 and 70; 20 or 29% died between 71 and 75; 17 or 24.7% died between 75 and 80; nine or 13.1% died between 81 and 85; and one or 1.4% died at over 86 years of age.
On the basis of this analysis, the average age at death of a Dublin barman is 73.4 years. This is in line with the life expectancy of the average Irish male. Eight of the barmen died when under the age of 65 and might be considered premature. However, none of the relevant death certificates recorded lung cancer, for example, as the primary cause of mortality. In addition to the pensioner deaths, three members of the scheme died in service over the past five years. None of these was attributed to lung cancer. In all 72 cases examined, it would be reasonable to assume that, in line with the general adult population, at least one third of the deceased were smokers. In all cases, their entire working lives were spent in the Dublin licensed trade. It appears to the Licensed Vintners' Association, which carried out the analysis, that frequently exaggerated arguments  can be introduced into the debate on smoking in licensed premises. All the evidence to which I refer is verifiable and, hopefully, it may help inject some balance into the debate.
The new technology being installed in a number of pubs in Dublin will allow for a complete change of air in any establishment every three minutes. In my opinion, one would be much safer in such a pub than one would be walking down our streets where buses are constantly pumping out carbon monoxide. Many people state that part of a licensed premises should be set aside for non-smokers. I agree with this concept, but it would not be possible to do so in small city and country pubs with only one bar.
In the past, cigarette vending machines were placed in any location that was deemed suitable, which often meant that they were out of the view of publicans and their staff. In such circumstances, anyone could enter a premises, put money in the machine and obtain cigarettes. I must give credit to cigarette vending machine operators who, at great expense, have introduced a scheme whereby people can only use tokens in such machines and these can only be purchased across the counter from bar staff. This will eliminate the problem of placing vending machines in places where they cannot be seen.
I am not speaking on behalf of vending machine operators but it seems that the measures in the Bill which apply to them are draconian, particularly in so far as tobacco control officers will be able to enter a premises owned by one of these people and if it is discovered that an underage person has been served, he or she will lose their licence for four months and will have no recourse to the courts. The same will apply to the owners of public houses if they serve someone who is underage. However, the courts will be responsible for taking away a publican's licence and if good evidence of innocence is provided, he or she may not be punished in this way. Many tobacco agents and vending machine operators work out of their own homes, however, and tobacco control officers will be able to confiscate their cigarettes and machines and they will have no recourse to the courts. I ask the Minister to reconsider the situation which obtains in this regard because I do not believe that any cigarette vending machine operators would knowingly be involved in selling cigarettes to people who are underage.
While the Bill is laudable, I do not agree with the measures it takes in respect of many areas. There are approximately 100 small companies involved in the cigarette vending machine industry and these will all be forced out of business if the Bill, as it stands, is passed. These people must be given some protection, be it in the form of being allowed to launch an appeal or to have recourse to the courts. If cigarettes can only be purchased from such machines by using tokens, problems in this area will be eliminated.
 I appreciate what is being attempted in the Bill. It is unfortunate that so many young people are smoking at present. On our streets, one can see children of 12 and 13 years of age smoking. This is a major problem and I congratulate the Minister of State on trying to deal with it as best she can.
Mr. Norris Mr. Norris
Mr. Norris: I had not really intended to speak on the Bill so late in the evening, but it is an interesting and useful debate. I compliment the Government on introducing this measure. It has not always been popular or easy to take on the tobacco industry, which is extremely powerful. Previous Ministers have encountered arguments from the Department of Finance, in terms of tax revenue. However, it is now quite clear that any revenue lost due to a decline in tobacco sales is more than matched by savings in the health service. The Minister of State referred to the astonishing fact that there are 7,000 preventable deaths every year directly attributable to tobacco smoking.
People may regard my comments as somewhat hypocritical because I am a habitual smoker. The Minister of State said that, in the early years of the last century when tobacco use, largely through smoking cigarettes, was becoming widespread the product was seen as benign and recreational. That makes me feel a lot older than I am. I was not around in the early years of the last century, but it was so regarded when I was a kid. Every good gangster movie had the silhouetted figure of a man in a trilby hat, lighting up a cigarette – such as The Third Man and other wonderful films. Advertisements for the Marlboro cigarette company featured a wonderful macho man, but we subsequently discovered that at least two of the male models held up as the essence of virility died of lung cancer as a result of the consumption of Marlboro products. I well remember when, not only was it fashionable, it was regarded as mature, sexy and, even, healthy to take up cigarette smoking to reduce nervous tension. It was even suggested it was good for asthmatics on that account. That is not all that long ago – I was not born at the beginning of the last century.
I disagree with the 1964 report of the US surgeon on smoking and health, quoted by the Minister of State, which concluded that cigarette smoking was causally related to lung cancer in men and to a lesser extent in women. I suggest the reason it appeared to occur to a lesser extent in women was that women did not consider smoking fashionable at the time. However, they have since been targeted in the most unscrupulous way by all the cigarette companies, both in this country and America, with specially designed slimline cigarettes in a heavy advertising campaign. The tobacco industry was absolutely unscrupulous and cynical in that regard, especially in the United States of America. I am glad the Minister of State  referred to the report, in June 2001, for the Philip Morris company in Czechoslovakia. I recall commenting in this House at the time that, since the report stated smokers die early, it was financially beneficial to the State because it saved money on the health service. One might as well say that if the populations of Dún Laoghaire, Sallynoggin and Ballybrack were gassed, there would be a saving on transport. That was a rather ruthless attitude.
We cannot be expected, however, to tolerate any double-think on the part of the cigarette companies. We know they deliberately added chemicals they knew to be addictive. Though it is a powerful drug, nicotine was not considered by the tobacco industry to be sufficiently addictive. Therefore, they increased the addiction by deliberately and cynically adding chemicals which added nothing to the health or enjoyment of the smoker but simply got people addicted more heavily and more rapidly. That was an appalling approach, especially when the health risks were well known. When the American tobacco companies encountered difficulties in their own country, they dumped their cigarettes on Third World countries where unfortunate people, already mugged by global capitalism, were driven to further suffering by the operations of the companies in question.
There has been some discussion on the introduction of ID cards which should be looked at. While I was in my local newsagent's shop recently, I was delighted to see her run a kid of about 14 years out of the shop. I am not sure how many tobacconists do likewise – I hope most of them would do so. I complimented her on her splendid action and promised to mention it in this debate if I got the opportunity. However, there may be a problem in determining the age of young people on the borderline of the age limit, unless they are required to produce an ID card.
I have been informed by a representative of ASH – Action on Smoking and Health – that it can be construed as a legitimate defence, under the law, if the tobacconist has asked for an ID card and a card of some kind has been flashed. I received a letter from a decent gentleman in County Clare who asked how a shopkeeper is to determine the ages of teenagers without a proof of age card. He pointed out that a shopkeeper could lose his licence for four months due to what could be an error. Did RTE know that Nadine in the “Popstars” programme was only 16? That is a fair comparison. Our national broadcasting station was unable to determine that young woman's age and it seems unfair to expect a newsagent in a country town to do so.
My correspondent went on to refer to what he described as a draconian measure to ban the display of products. He suggested a compromise of a somewhat technical nature, referring to a maximum display of not more than 1.2 metres by  0.6 metres, or 4 feet by 2 feet, from floor level. The current average display unit is 1.8 metres by 1.2 metres, up to 3.6 metres by 2.4 metres. Pointing out that tobacco is still a legal product, he asked the reason decent, salt of the earth, family shop owners should be criminalised. I suggest he has made a reasonable point.
Senator Quinn described the measure as draconian, but I do not agree – the right balance has been struck. If an overly draconian approach is taken, the trade will be driven underground, as in the case of Prohibition in the United States. There is already a serious problem, which I hope will be addressed, in terms of the widespread sale on the streets of Dublin of contraband or smuggled cigarettes. Much of the very substantial proceeds of this trade goes to subversive organisations and criminal gangs. This really needs to be tackled.
Reference was made to smoking areas and I confess my guilt – I am a smoker and have travelled a good deal. One ought to have care for the health of smokers as well as non-smokers – we are still members of the human race. In the USA, particularly airports, one sees little glass boxes with virtually no provision for fan extraction of the nicotine laden smoke. They look like boxes of cotton wool and it is absolutely impossible to breathe inside one of them – they are virtual gas chambers. I suggest there should be regulations in respect of such enclosures for smokers. It is not really good enough to put people into this appalling situation, without any facility for smoke extraction. Like myself, most people had become addicted before the dangers of smoking were widely advertised.
I welcome the Minister of State's criticism of sponsorship and advertising. It is a most extraordinary irony that manufacturers of such lethal products as cigarettes should advertise in the context of sporting activities which are supposed to be about health and greatly attractive to young people. This displays the cynicism of the tobacco manufacturing companies.
My final point is slightly sentimental. In Dublin there are a number of old-fashioned shops such as Fox's and Kapp & Peterson's. Everybody of a certain age remembers the Kapp & Peterson advertisement with the pipe and so on. They are such nice people in the shop and they sell all the old tobacco accoutrements, not just cigarettes but all kinds of lighters, cigars, cigar cutters and so on. It has a very nice gentlemanly, old-fashioned atmosphere and I understand that there may be some degree of exemption for these traditional family businesses. Without wishing to spread my own addiction throughout the nation, I am glad the Minister has seen fit to make some provision in this regard. I compliment the Minister on the introduction of the Bill, which is a wise and balanced measure, and I wish it well.
Mr. Glynn Mr. Glynn
Mr. Glynn: Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chuir roimh an tAire go dtí an teach. At the outset I wish to confess that I am a former smoker who smoked anything up to 80 cigarettes a day. If I was playing cards I would certainly break open a fourth large packet in the day. Thank God, I managed to kick the habit, but I assure Members that it was not without great difficulty. I agree with most of the points that have been made in the course of this debate. The legislation is very important. There may be areas in which I am not in total agreement, but, like many Bills, it is a package.
The health implications of addiction to tobacco are very serious, as is the expenditure on health. We are not just dealing with general medical services such as hospital services, community care services and outpatient clinics. There are also social implications arising from this addiction. Starting to smoke has much to do with peer pressure and when I was growing up, I craved the odd butt from my peers. Their response was “a mhic, do not ever smoke, I would love to give them up but I cannot”. This clearly indicates that smoking can be equally as addictive as some of the harder drugs. I worked in the health services for a long number of years and psychiatric services is an area where tobacco smoking is very prominent for obvious reasons. Psychiatric patients are very given to tobacco whether it be cigarettes, the pipe or snuff. People with serious respiratory or cardiac problems, or other conditions associated with the consumption of tobacco, still continue to smoke even when death is staring them in the face, such is the extent of their addiction. The addictive nature of tobacco is a proven fact.
Much has been said about environmental tobacco smoke. Tobacco is a legal product and as such its sale and consumption should be governed by strict legislation, which I believe the Minister is trying to achieve in this Bill. With the benefit of the collective wisdom of all in this House, as well as retail newsagents, vending machine operators, vintners and all other concerned bodies, we can ensure that the legislation that emanates from the Oireachtas is reasonable, balanced and effective.
Advertising is something that I get very peeved about in regard to tobacco. Some years ago I was at a wedding in England and saw a television advertisement which portrayed a man in a trench coat, with a face as long as a wet Sunday, walking along a lonely strand. He turned his back, a puff of smoke became visible and a voice said that one is never alone with a certain product, the name of which was mentioned. More recently there was an advertisement that said, happiness is a cigar called a particular name which we all know. This is totally misleading information. It is amusing in some way but to young ingenuous individuals, it can make an impression and acts as the kind of enticement we have heard of in the course of the debate so far. Advertising seeks to glamorise the smoking of tobacco. The consumption of tobacco  is socially acceptable but if I smoke, why should everyone around me smoke? We have to deal with the concept of environmental tobacco smoke. I am sure everybody in the House appreciates the measures being taken by the Vintners' Federation of Ireland. It is making a fair stab at doing something about the problem.
I got a letter from our good friend in County Clare, Dr. Fenton Howell, who made a valuable point in the context of a person's age. Publicans have the same problem and I believe the slogan behind many bars should be equally displayed for the benefit of potential underage tobacco purchasers. The onus of proving that one is over 18 years should be on them. Identity cards are very important because at the last local elections I knocked on a door and asked a young lady if I could speak to her parents. She asked me if I did not want her vote, which made me look at her again. I believed her to be about 14 years of age but she was in her 20s. Last year I was at her wedding as she was the fiancée of a very good friend of mine. That is an indication as to how a retailer can be fooled. There must be some protection for vendors. This is all about fair play and the Constitution states that we cherish all the children of the nation equally. Therefore, we must make it reasonable that if I am a vendor of tobacco products and I refuse somebody, there must be some basis for refusing him or her.
Under age smoking is a huge problem, especially among young women. We are the best country in the world at enacting legislation but we do not enforce it. I welcome this Bill and believe it has great merit. It is deserving of support. I agree with colleagues on both sides of the House who made the point that certain areas still remain to be dealt with and hopefully that will be done as we proceed through the various Stages. As Senator Bohan and Senator Norris said, it is much better that, if tobacco is a legal product, tobacco products are sold by reputable retailers, whether they are vending machine operators or newsagents. I do not want to see them being sold on the streets. There should be a mandatory fine for anyone caught selling them there. They should not be doing it.
The nature of tobacco has been established and we have all heard the opinions of Dr. Fenton Howell and many of his ilk. If we are serious about the control of tobacco, we must enshrine that control in legislation and, having enacted law, we have to enforce it. I thank the Minister of State for attending and wish her well on the Bill.
Mr. Burke Mr. Burke
Mr. Burke: I welcome the Minister of State to the House. Like other speakers, I did not intend to speak on this issue, but find it very interesting and can see it from both sides as I smoked extensively for many years. I smoked anything up to 60 or 70 cigarettes a day. For the last ten or 12 years I have put them aside and can vouch for the fact  that giving them up is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Cigarettes, as everybody knows, are very addictive and it is a very difficult task to quit. I welcome some aspects of the Bill, but there are others with which I do not fully agree.
As the law stands, the health boards are the enforcing authorities with regard to smoking in prohibited areas. Under the Bill, enforcement officers will be employed by the tobacco council, rather than by the health boards. We have the ludicrous state of affairs whereby a small restaurant of 30 seats must reserve half of them for non-smokers, while a public house can serve food with no restrictions. The Bill should provide incentives to stop smoking. There should be a lower VAT rate in a totally non-smoking pub or restaurant. People would make up their own minds about going to a smoking or a non-smoking premises and there would not be the great ambiguity in the law which the Bill is not addressing. While restaurants of all sizes must provide half their space for non-smokers, public houses, big and small, are not so restricted and there is no incentive for anyone to go to any particular place. The Government has missed a great opportunity in the Bill to put incentives in place for the person to choose if he or she wants to patronise a non-smoking establishment. The Government is putting laws in place to drive people's smoking addiction under the carpet. It seeks to have cigarettes hidden under counters, have people prosecuted for selling to under age smokers and for advertising that they have them. In most European countries, tobacco can only be sold under licence. We should also have a licensing system.
The Bill provides for the establishment of a commission with 11 members and a chairman which will, in turn, establish a tobacco free council made up of a further 24 members, of whom the Minister will appoint 12. That is a merry-go-round allowing the Government to make appointments to boards in the run-up to a general election.
RGDATA has sent a circular to every Senator – and I presume to every Deputy – setting out its recommendations for how businesses should operate when the Bill is passed. One would have to have some sympathy for the businesses concerned. It is ludicrous for the Minister to make the staff of shops bend down under a counter to get cigarettes to sell to old age pensioners or those on crutches. That is the reality of what the Bill proposes.
The Minister has made a grave mistake in not offering incentives to any member of the public to quit smoking. It is a hard-line Bill which is being driven from the wrong end. The Minister is trying to prohibit the sale of tobacco, rather than encourage people to give it up.
Labhrás Ó Murchú Labhrás Ó Murchú
Labhrás Ó Murchú: I would not be able to match the achievement of Senator Bohan in  smoking 60 Sweet Afton every day, but confess that at the age of ten I invested my life savings of one penny in two Woodbines. I can still remember furtively smoking them down the gas house lane in Cashel and it cured me for all time. Apart from being violently sick after smoking the two Woodbines, I also had a guilt complex and had to try to get rid of the smell from my fingers before I went home.
This is an important Bill. I do not accept Senator Quinn's statement that it is not landmark legislation. Any Bill which deals with specifics and provides for penalties where 30% of the population are severely addicted to tobacco products is landmark legislation. It is very difficult legislation in its own right. Success for it means reducing the number of smokers, not lowering the number of cigarettes being sold in specific circumstances. We have to look at the matter in that context. I suggest that what is important is to be able to wed it to our vision of eliminating smoking entirely.
At its very best, smoking is anti-social and, at its very worst, lethal. There is no longer any question of this given the medical evidence and nobody would argue against it anymore. It is important when we debate the matter here that we realise the difficulties of those addicted to tobacco products. Those addicted to tobacco products have, and will have in the future, an increasingly hostile response to their habit. However, we must start by saying that there but for the grace of God go I or, in my case, but for the grace of the two Woodbines. It is true that anybody who is addicted certainly feels they are being insulated, that they are being helped and that there is sympathy for their situation.
Young people have a particular regard for the body culture that prevails today. Everything that is sold seems to be directed at young people, telling them how they can lose weight, have a better hair style, and how cosmetics will help them. We have to ask ourselves why, in spite of this body culture, young people, particularly young women, are still prepared to smoke. I have often made a point of counting the number of young people who smoke in any group that I see in public. Invariably, there are as many as three young girls smoking and this is in spite of the body culture. Perhaps we need to undertake a supplementary examination to ask why this happens in spite of the health hazards, indeed in spite of the aesthetic aspect of smoking. People are aware that it ruins their complexion, their teeth and will give them bad breath.
These may seem like small things, but we must ask why young people are still prepared to smoke. There are a number of obvious reasons, but one that I think particularly important is the use of the cigarette as a crutch in social situations. In old times, many film actors did not know what to do with their hands and invariably the cigarette was the answer. I believe that there is an element  of that psychology among young people today, arising from difficulty in communicating and shyness; I have watched their body language when they are smoking. This aspect of smoking among young people should be considered. Peer pressure is an obvious cause, but I do not believe that the pressure of advertising is a strong force any more. Restrictions on advertising have meant that the Marlboro image has died a death, as has the suggestion that you must smoke in order to be more masculine or feminine. However, new reasons for young people to take up smoking have come into existence and I think that it behoves us all to find out what the reasons are. Perhaps the Department of Health and Children has already done this. If we can identify these reasons, can we not also provide help?
The letter from Tom Burke in Corofin, on behalf of the Federation of Retail Newsagents, has been referred to by many Members during this debate. Mr. Burke made it clear that the federation supports the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, in his endeavours to reduce the incidence of smoking, or to eliminate it altogether. The difficulty is that, while it is legal to smoke and 30% of the adult population continue to do so, endeavours to restrict smoking will be met with hostility.
Ten or 12 years ago, before Irish people had a hostile attitude to smoking, I was on a bus in America with a friend who took out a packet of cigarettes and asked the woman sitting behind him if she objected to him smoking. She said that she did object, and asked him to put his cigarettes away. Such an assertive attitude has reduced by 13% over the past few years the number of Irish adults who smoke. However, I do not believe that the assertive attitude of non-smokers like myself will have the same rate of success with the remaining 30% of adult smokers.
The voluntary groups who are attempting to control smoking should have their efforts acknowledged and be provided with adequate resources to achieve their aims. They have an important role to play in eliminating smoking. We have already mentioned areas such as the sponsorship of events by tobacco companies and I believe such sponsorship should be removed entirely. However, the Government must help. Those bodies who depend on sponsorship should be rewarded for displaying an anti-smoking slogan, making it clear that sport and health are linked. Like the retailers, sporting bodies should be given breathing space. It is vital that we work in partnership with them to eliminate smoking. If we do not do this, there is the possibility that smoking and the sale of cigarettes will eventually go underground.
No one can make an argument in favour of smoking. We can empathise with those people who find themselves in that position. Anybody who has pushed cigarettes on young people has done them a terrible injustice; they have not  given them the opportunity to develop and make up their own minds. Similarly, we have a lot to answer for regarding alcohol and the way in which we have been jocose about it and its effects. We have tried to justify it and make light of it. There is no fun in watching a young wino lying on the street with their life destroyed by alcohol. Nor is there any fun in watching an elderly person lying in a hospital bed, no longer able to breathe, or hard-earned money being spent on alcohol and cigarettes when it is needed by families.
We need to have a partnership between the legislation and our desire to help people who are addicted to tobacco products. The next phase of this legislation must allow for an interaction between us all, be it the retailers or those who are involved in anti-smoking organisations, to eliminate smoking from all aspects of life. At its best, smoking is anti-social, at its worst, it is lethal. Let us help everybody to get the best results.
Mr. D. Cregan Mr. D. Cregan
Mr. D. Cregan: An example of what can be done when people make an effort was evident last Monday, 4 March, with the restrictions on the use of plastic bags. I am involved in a business that supplied plastic bags to customers and no plastic bag has been given out since last Monday. The initiative to restrict the use of such bags is working. I congratulate those involved in this initiative on its success. People are readily admitting that they can quite easily get by without the bags, and that they understand the harm that plastic causes to the environment. The public promotions of this initiative worked well and it proves that we can change things.
I never smoked cigarettes, but I love a cigar. I am a person who loves going to public houses, even though I never drank – I cannot be a Pioneer, because I have sold alcohol. I was in the pub business and I can understand that cigarettes constitute big business for publicans. Smoking is part of our culture, whether we like it or not. How do we eliminate it?
I have been to many other countries where one cannot obtain cigarettes wherever one likes. One must go to certain places to get them. I recall being on holidays once and getting an urge for a cigar. I had to walk about two miles to get it and by the time I got there I had lost the urge.
I smoke an occasional cigar and can understand the attraction of smoking. I know of people who are long gone because of cigarettes. While the Bill tackles the problem it does not really get on top of it. We do not want a situation where people are going down back lanes to get cigarettes. We must ensure that if people are to obtain them they are well legislated for. In other countries cigarettes can be obtained only in tobacco shops. All types of tobacco are sold in these shops but nothing else. Cigarettes cannot be obtained in supermarkets, newsagents or pubs.
 Small business is vital to this country, and we do not want to create a “them and us” situation. RGDATA has made proposals with which I have to agree. There is no reason the Minister of the relevant Department should not speak with RGDATA to seek compromise and see if certain places in certain areas can be licensed to sell cigarettes. We should make no apologies for telling people that if they want cigarettes they have to go to these designated places.
In America smoking is a sin. A friend of mine has lived in San Francisco for the past 40 years and cannot come home because he has a bad chest. He loves his cigarette but has to go outside his factory workplace to smoke it. Employees inside that factory can be on drugs or anything else but he has to leave to have a cigarette. It is as serious as that. I could not believe it.
I can see now in my own country, however, people feeling chesty when they sit down in a pub. Air conditioning in pubs is very important, but we should be careful we do not kill the character of our pub culture. Pubs are big business and are very important to this economy. Tourism is our second biggest industry and it is vital we do not lose that. I am not making a case for cigarettes, but if people smoke in particular pubs we should give incentives to non-smoking pubs. Credit should be given back to people whereby they can go to certain places and it does not cost them as much. It would cost the State but there would be savings in terms of hospital beds.
It has to be one way or the other, and as legislators we should take the lead on this issue. We have done so on plastic bags, and this has proven itself already. This policy is really working and will work to our benefit as a people. We should do the very same with cigarettes and smoking generally.
I was in the Glen Hall in Cork last Sunday night, sitting in a group of 13 or 14 people. Seven of them, elderly men and women, were smoking whether I liked it or not and I was smoking my cigar. I make no bones about it and will not make any excuses. There were four ashtrays. My wife has a bad chest and does not like people smoking, which I understand. We should be able to get around this situation. The Glen Hall should be able to provide incentives so that there would be an extra cost for smoking areas. It is like charging people more instead of putting them into prison.
The Minister should have more discussions with RGDATA. We do not want to knock small businesses which are the backbone of our society. Let us not give the impression that they are disowned because they are selling cigarettes. They should be asked if they want a licence and then be made responsible.
Every incentive possible should be given to young people. It is a shame to drive through any town, as Senator Ó Murchú said, and see young girls, in particular, with cigarettes because they  want to look good. Under no circumstances should they be able to obtain cigarettes so easily.
Every promotion possible should be undertaken. We will save on health costs. In the long term it is a massive investment for the good of our country. We should show on television the dangers of smoking. Just look at the drink driving campaign and the advertisement in which a young man gets into his car after two or three pints and kills a child in a garden. This strategy works. I turn to another channel when I see this image now, such is its impact. Lots of people have learnt from it, and we should do the same with cigarettes. We should show what they do to the heart, to the valves, to the lungs and so on. We should get our consultants involved in promotions to make young people aware.
Young people are very bright and do listen. They are the best in Europe. We should tell them we do not want them smoking and give the reasons why. It is the same with drink, as Senator Ó Murchú again said. I am very disturbed, as a former publican, with the drink culture today. Drink and cigarettes go together. There is a macho ethic. The way some publicans are giving out drink is something else. They are licensees and have responsibilities.
We have a duty to our young people to get the best people involved. Small shopkeepers in towns, streets and villages are our watchdogs, just like our post offices. Give them a licence and leave it to them. If they fail then they should have their licences removed. I would not include in the Bill the provision that there should be no recommendations to the courts. The Bill is not providing for courts or judges. That is a little bit tough. Perhaps after a certain period, the first three years, there should be courts. I would have no problem with that, but let us not be too strict. On trying to get something moving we should have small businesses with us rather than against us. Everybody who can help should be asked, organised and given incentives. Give an incentive to people and they will respond.
Mr. Cassidy Mr. Cassidy
Mr. Cassidy: I have listened attentively to many excellent contributions from Senators with vast experience in dealing with the problem before us. I welcome the Minister to the House. The Bill is an effort to ensure that something is done about tobacco smoking.
I regularly frequent public places and we all have the experience of very poor ventilation in smaller pubs in particular. The health boards should have a watchdog role. There should be a minimum standard of extraction in all places where alcohol is consumed. The character of socialising in Ireland should not be interfered with, but at the same time, smoke should be extracted to the extent that one cannot smell it from clothes after being in a premises for five minutes. One can imagine the damage such smoke does to the innocent third party.
I happen to know some colleagues in a cancer laboratory in New York, one of the most  advanced in the world. They tell me of the potential impact of showing images of the effects of smoking in our schools or on our television screens, of showing, for example, the contrasting images of the lung of a smoker with that of a non-smoker. A personal friend of mine, Eddie Shaw, was responsible for that commercial mentioned by Senator Cregan where as a result of the man having one or two drinks too many the young boy was killed by the car coming through the hedge. It horrified most motorists. It really made us ask whether we need to pass out cars and drive at such speed. As an advertisement, it worked extremely well. At the end of the day it all comes down to education, the field from which the Minister of State, who is held in the highest esteem and greatly respected, comes. She will go far and I wish her well.
This is mould breaking legislation. We were always taught – Senator Moylan would know this having been involved with many all-Ireland winning teams – that the greatest gift one can give one's body is to keep it fit. Certainly, it defies logic to harm it, whether through drink or smoking to excess. As someone who was often extremely fit for many years and then finished up in intensive care and down to nine stone because of excessive smoking many years ago, I can certainly tell the House how smoking affects one's quality of life. I went from being one of the fittest for my age to not being able to walk up stairs and the contrast in my quality of life was stark.
Having come through those difficulties, I acknowledge the efforts being made. I appreciate the great care and attention put into bringing the Bill to the House for our consideration. I welcome the part of it which provides for much tighter control on all aspects of tobacco retailing, including vending machines which will have to be located beside, on or behind the bar counter under the direct supervision of staff. Regulations will provide that they which will have a locking device and be activated for sale by a unique coin or token available only from staff on the premises. The need for much tighter controls has been made clear to the cigarette machine operators. This is a step in the right direction which is putting the responsibility for the running and supervision of vending machines on the person in charge of the premises. It is also assisting them to control the sale of tobacco.
There are many points I wanted to make which were made by other speakers. I fully support any measure which will help young people, discourage them from smoking and encourage them to lead a sporting lifestyle which leads to a quality of life in total contrast with that of smokers.
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Ms Hanafin): Ba mhaith liom buíochas a gabháil leis the Seanadóirí as ucht an méid a dúirt siad anseo anocht. There seems to be a general acceptance that we need to be tough  on tobacco in the interests of the health of our society, both young and old.
I particularly commend the many Senators who confessed to being smokers, either in their early youth or even today. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to grant absolution, but hope the introduction of the measures in the Bill will lead us to a tobacco free society which obviously has to be done in a wider context. It is not just a matter of legislation. What we are proposing takes on board many of the best reports from the Joint Committee on Health and Children, the cardiovascular health strategy and the Government's policy in recent months.
I accept what Senators said, that it will also take a change of attitude and more than legislation to have this implemented. However, the elements set out in the Bill are crucially important. There is an element of the carrot and stick approach in all our work. On the one hand, we must encourage and, on the other, make sure that penalties are in place for those abusing the situation with our young people, where they are trying to get them addicted.
The Minister has been strongly promoting the Bill since he introduced it. It marks a major step forward. When I spoke at the WHO conference on tobacco in Warsaw a couple of weeks ago I found that they were hugely impressed with the measures we were trying to introduce here. We can show the way to the rest of the world, not only on smoking but also on passive smoking, which will be of benefit to everybody.
Ba mhaith liom buíochas a gabháil leis the Seanadóirí as ucht an méid a dúirt siad. From the points raised, I know there will be amendments of interest to Senators which I will be happy to discuss with the House.
Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Friday, 8 March 2002.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: When is it proposed to sit again?
Mr. Cassidy Mr. Cassidy
Mr. Cassidy: Tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.
Seanad Éireann 169 Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001: Second Stage (Resumed).