The news that tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc, maker of the iconic Camel cigarette, is to ban smoking in its offices and buildings will bring a wry smile to anyone who has struggled to give up smoking.
The long overdue decision will provoke something a little less sanguine among those who have lost loved ones or friends to tobacco-related diseases — something over 5,000 people in this country alone last year.
It should also encourage former Health Minister James Reilly in his efforts to introduce non-branded cigarette packaging in a bid to dissuade people from taking up the lethal habit. This encouragement should be particularly welcome as this proposal has come under fire from a range of interests, most of whom should know better than to put commercial interests before health issues. Indeed, so forceful have some of these interventions been that it would be very welcome if the EU made it known that it will support any Irish efforts to confront big tobacco. The Reynolds decision is hopefully another milestone on the road to making smoking a pariah activity. It also shows spectacular hypocrisy.
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