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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

Cancer charity brands minister's smoking comments "unhelpful and irresponsible"

Finian McGrath said that he personally supports smoking areas in pubs and restaurants.

Image: Sam Boal/

NEWLY APPOINTED JUNIOR health minister Finian McGrath has come under fire for saying that smoking should be allowed in designated areas in pubs and restaurants.

He made the comments during an interview in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post and stated that it was a “private, personal view”.

The Dublin TD also said that he felt increasing excise duty on cigarettes would play into the hands of cigarette smugglers.

McGrath’s comments rankle with the stated position in the new Programme for Government, which aims to have less than 5% of the country smoking by 2025.

‘A retrograde step’

Responding to McGrath’s comments, the Irish Cancer Society, described them as “unhelpful and irresponsible”.

“The smoking ban and increases in excise duty are effective public health measures that save lives.”

Any roll back of the smoking ban would be a retrograde step.  Second-hand smoke causes cancer.
We expect Minister McGrath will fully support his Government’s commitments in this regard and will not impede or obstruct public health measures proven to save lives.

Ireland was the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace back in 2004, and the Irish Cancer Society has claimed that in that time there have been 4,000 less smoking related deaths thanks to the ban.

The charity also said that it was willing to meet with the minister to discuss the issue.

Supporting the programme for government

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme yesterday, McGrath stated that the new Programme for Government – including plans to make Ireland tobacco free – has his full support.

He went on to say:

I also defend the right of any minister or any citizen to have their own private and personal view.

Host O’Rourke then put it to McGrath – who is a smoker – that in his new position as a super junior minister with a responsibility disability issues there was an onus on him to kick the habit.

“My responsibility is to do my job to the best of my ability in terms of health, people with cystic fibrosis and services for people with disabilities. These are my focuses. On a private and personal level I will make an effort and that’s my position,” McGrath responded.

Read: Hikes in prices, menthols to be banned and plain packaging – cigarettes took a big hit this week

Also: School students in Paris have had their smoking areas taken away from them

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