Martin gets European award for smoking ban

SCOTTISH First Minister Jack McConnell is to visit Dublin next Tuesday to see how the smoking ban is working.

The visit was confirmed yesterday as it emerged that Health Minister Micheal Martin is to receive the European Society of Cardiology’s (ESC) prestigious gold medal award.

He is the first Irish person to receive the award. It will be presented at the ESC’s annual conference in Munich, Germany, this weekend. The ESC, which represents more than 45,000 heart specialists, said Mr Martin had made a significant contribution to the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Irish Heart Foundation president Will Fennell said: “It is a positive reflection on all Irish citizens that the outstanding leadership shown is recognised by such a prestigious body.

“This legislation will be seen in time as a most outstanding and courageous health initiative, which hopefully will be adopted around Europe and the world.”

US studies have shown that smoking bans lead to a sharp drop in heart attacks because of the reduced exposure to passive smoking.

Mr Martin said he hoped the successful implementation of the smoking ban in Ireland would encourage other countries to follow suit. Norway introduced the ban in June.

Mr Martin will meet with Mr McConnell and Scotland’s deputy health minister Tom McCabe on Tuesday. Senior health officials and vintners’ representatives will also meet with the Scottish delegation.

According to a recent poll, 82% of the public support the smoking ban.

A short-lived rebellion by a Galway publican, who claimed he was being put out of business by the ban, ended within two days last month.

The Office of Tobacco Control’s recent report on the workplace smoking ban found a 97% compliance rate.

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