A greenhorn’s silly own goal - Opposition to tobacco laws

IT is inevitable that when a few of the highly opinionated hurlers on the ditch finally get to play in the senior championship that there would be a few dropped balls, a few missed tackles and maybe even an own goal or two.

Because of that maybe we should be grateful that Junior Health Minister Finian McGrath’s greenhorn faux pas over anti-smoking legislation does little more than damage his credibility. That credibility was further damaged when he declined to clarify his views. Rather than retract them he reiterated them. Had he the benefit of an attendant and experienced party handler he might have been told to stop digging the hole he had jumped into.

There is simply no possibility that his unwise intervention might lead to legislative change and allow smokers appease their unfortunate addiction in social settings now freed from the impositions of the wretched habit. The battle to control smoking and the death-peddling conglomerates behind tobacco sales was too long and too hard to make even the slightest concession.

Mr McGrath called for a “new approach” to tobacco which would involve “listening to smokers” who he said were “fed up of being pushed around”. It is hard to imagine a more preposterous and ill-advised call from someone in his position. That plea, based on his own addiction to smoking, is such an own goal that he may be the first member of the new administration to be sidelined by an unhappy management.

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