New government ban on smoking in public parks and beaches

People will be banned from smoking in public parks or on beaches under plans under government review.

The sites are the next frontier for a smoking ban, with the possible introduction of ordinances that will discourage people from lighting themselves.

Tobacco control officials are aiming to expand a zero-tolerance approach to more locations, 18 years after Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace.

In its most recent report, the Department of Health’s Tobacco-Free Ireland Unit said it plans to promote smoking bans in certain parks and beaches “in cooperation with local authorities through voluntary action or through the introduction of regulations”.

A survey conducted last year found smoking rates rose from 17 percent in 2019 to 18 percent last year. Prevalence is highest among those aged 45 to 54 – 24 percent of whom smoke.

About half of smokers reported changes in smoking behavior during the Covid-19 restrictions, with 28 per cent reporting having smoked more cigarettes than before the pandemic.

The latest update shows that 60 percent of clubs participating in the GAA’s Healthy Clubs initiative — which aims to provide centers for community health — had a smoke-free and vape-free policy.

It was also noted that a number of initiatives have been taken by local authorities to introduce tobacco-free environments in areas frequented by children.

In 2020, ‘Not Around Us’ signs were put up in Limerick at 42 outdoor locations where children and young people are likely to be. This includes school gates, community playgrounds and recreational facilities.

In Offaly all playgrounds maintained by the municipality are tobacco free zones and there are plans to extend this to parks and leisure areas.

Last year, 56 complaints were made to environmental health officials about tobacco control violations and six convictions were obtained for lighting up where they shouldn’t and selling cigarettes to children.

Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, who presented the report alongside Prime Minister Frank Feighan, said: “Quitting smoking remains one of the best decisions a person can make about their health and the HSE Quit service is available to anyone who needs support to take that first step.”

He said the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhalation Products) Act “will bring us closer to the goal of a tobacco-free Ireland and I am committed to its introduction.

“The bill prohibits the sale of tobacco products at venues or events intended for children, and prohibits the sale of tobacco products from self-service machines and temporary premises. We will also ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.

“It is important that we use all tools – legislation, education and enforcement – to protect people from the harms of tobacco.” New government ban on smoking in public parks and beaches

Fry Electronics Team

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