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Smokers' body rejects plans to ban smoking in public parks

Forest Éireann, which claims to represent smokers in Ireland, describes James Reilly’s plans as “a heavy-handed intrusion”.

Image: SuperFantastic via Flickr

A BODY representing the rights of Irish smokers has slammed proposals from health minister James Reilly to extend the smoking ban to areas like public parks and beaches.

Forest Éireann says the plans, announced by Reilly at a conference on Friday, are “ridiculous” and tantamount to an encroachment on civil liberties.

“The idea that people are at risk from someone smoking in the open air is ridiculous,” said Forest Éireann spokesman John Mallon.

“Such a heavy-handed intrusion on me and a million more like me is not based on science or medicine,” he added. “It is not evidence-based.

Banning smoking in parks and beaches has little to do with the health of non-smokers. It’s designed to force people to quit smoking whatever the consequences for civil liberties.

It was reported on Saturday that Reilly had proposed the extension of the ban on workplace smoking as part of an attempt to “denormalise smoking”.

“I would like to do what they’ve done in New York, where smoking is banned in parks and on beaches, where children are likely to be and observe behaviour,” Reilly said.

Mallon responded by saying it was “completely unreasonable to ban smoking in outdoor public places”.

“Tobacco is a legal product and we encourage people to smoke responsibly, but banning them from smoking in the open air is a step too far.”

Dublin city councillor Steve Wrenn told us on Saturday that he is to put forward a motion at next month’s meeting of the city council proposing a ban on smoking in the city’s 109 playgrounds.

Wrenn said he had recently tested the carbon monoxide readings of a seven-year-old boy whose mother smoked in the back garden away from him, and that his levels were still three times higher than those of someone who grew up in a non-smoking environment.

Three senators, led by oncologist Prof John Crown, are separately working together to introduce legislation which would ban smoking in cars when children are present.

Forest (the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) Eireann was founded in August 2010 and aspires “to be the voice and friend of the smoker in Ireland”. A similar group operates in the UK.

Poll: Should smoking in certain public areas be banned?

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Gavan Reilly

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