Ash wanted car smoking ban seven years ago

Anti-smoking lobby Ash Ireland welcomed moves to ban smoking in cars carrying children — seven years after it first called for it to be outlawed.

Passengers as well as drivers face fines of €3,000 for smoking in a commercial or private vehicles under planned legislation.

Ash Ireland chairman Dr Ross Morgan said it first raised a ban as a possible health initiative with the previous health minister Mary Harney in 2005.

In April 2010, it met the then newly appointed health minister James Reilly, and again pushed for the ban to be introduced.

Dr Reilly told the campaign group that he would proceed with the introduction of the ban as soon as it was feasible.

“We now again encourage the minister to ensure that there are no further delays with a proposal that has been with his department for over seven years,” said Dr Morgan.

The ban, originally proposed by senators, has been given the backing of gardaí and justice officials.

There is now agreement that gardaí can rely solely on visual evidence if cases come before the courts.

“The international evidence to support protecting children in cars from passive smoke is overwhelming,” said Dr Morgan.

He pointed to one study showing that one in seven Irish children are affected by passive smoke and said it was important that such children were protected by legislation.

The draft stage of the Children’s Health Protection Bill is due to be completed by the end of the month.

Smokers’ campaign group, Forest Éireann, said fines of €3,000 were disproportionate to the offence.

It said education was far better than legislation.

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