While convictions for allowing smoking in the workplace have dropped, the main problem areas are designated smoking areas in pubs and clubs, according to a HSE report out yesterday.
Over the six-month period April-September 2014, there were eight court convictions for breaches of the Public Health Tobacco Act, which was introduced in 2004.
Fines up to €700 were imposed in these eight cases, and costs of up to €2,185 were also imposed.
To date, there have been 278 convictions under the Act.
HSE environmental health officer Dave Molloy said: “In general, compliance with the Public Health (Tobacco) Act remains high.
“However, today’s publication demonstrates again that significant problems remain in relation to smoking in the workplace, particularly in relation to licensed premises and non-compliant smoking areas/shelters and also in relation to sales of tobacco products to minors.”
In relation to the sale of tobacco products to minors, the HSE undertakes compliance checks, also known as test purchases, in retail outlets to determine if retailers sell tobacco products to minors.
“The HSE’s test purchase programme, together with associated retail audits, highlight a significant ongoing non-compliance issue,” said Mr Molloy.
He noted that, between 2009 and the end of September 2014, there had been 44 convictions for offences resulting from the sale of tobacco products to minors.
He yesterday urged tobacco retailers to review their policies and procedures, and ensure that staff were trained to ask for identification if they were in any doubt whether a customer is over 18.
They should then refuse to sell unless valid identification is provide, he said.
“Most people start smoking in childhood,” said Mr Molloy. “And in order to protect our children, we need to stop them starting to smoke.
“Retailers have an integral role to play in this.”
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