AS minister for health, James Reilly proposed banning cigarette machines three years ago.
He argued this was an important step from protecting children against the danger of smoking. His successor Simon Harris is promising to introduce legislation to ban the 6,000 machines being operated on licenced premises and hotels throughout the country.
There are already many restrictions on cigarettes, but more needs to be done to ensure the country achieves the worthy aim of being tobacco-free by 2025. Cigarette machines are already banned in 15 European countries.
Tobacco still kills around 5,000 people a year here, and many more people suffer horrific disabilities as a result of smoking tobacco. Cigarettes are still too readily available.
The vending machine operators are opposing the move, threatening legal action against the Government if the minister persists with trying to ban the machines. The proposed legislation could lead to the loss of 145 jobs nationwide.
“We don’t mind what we sell, but we have to earn a living,” a spokesman for the Irish Cigarette Machine Operatives Association declared in an RTÉ interview yesterday. He pointed out that removing the machines will only mean bar staff will sell the cigarettes from behind the counter. Maybe the initial step would be to ensure they must be kept behind the bar and operated only by bar staff. This would provide extra protection against the sale of cigarettes to underage people.
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