Mr Desmond pressed the Cabinet to agree measures designed to reduce tobacco consumption based on a mass of medical and scientific research that had demolished claims that there was no link between smoking and cancer.
The minister said there was considerable public support at the time for efforts to curtail smoking in public.
A major survey showed 85% opposed smoking in food stores with a large majority also against allowing smoking in hospitals and doctors’ waiting rooms. A slight majority were also in favour of a smoking ban in other shops and restaurants.
Mr Desmond sought approval for a complete ban on smoking on public transport, cinemas, theatres, schools, hospitals and surgeries and all public offices.
He also recommended a large increase in the price of cigarettes and a requirement for tobacco companies to pay a percentage of their advertising and sponsorship budget to the Health Education Bureau.
Mr Desmond contrasted the HEB’s annual budget of £1.25m with the £9m annual spend on advertising and sponsorship by the tobacco industry in Ireland.
However, in a later memo, Mr Desmond claimed a ban might prove difficult to enforce in particularly in his department’s public offices and employment exchanges.