Tobacco-free group calls for removal of outdoor smoking areas in Ireland
"The idea that you would do this where there was food? I can't believe it, and I can't understand that this isn’t a direction from NPHET."
The Director General of the Tobacco-Free Research Institute Ireland (TFRI) has called for the removal of outdoor smoking areas in Ireland following the return of outdoor dining and drinking this week.
A number of local authorities in England have banned smoking outside of pubs, cafés and restaurants in an attempt to become smoke-free by 2030 and Professor Luke Clancy of the TFRI believes Ireland should follow suit.
On Newstalk Breakfast on Thursday, Clancy was asked if he would support similar measures in Ireland, to which he replied: “Absolutely.”
“We should never go back to smoking areas outside,” Clancy added.
Clancy elaborated on how the nature of the smoking area has changed since the smoking ban was introduced in Ireland in 2004 and that non-smokers joining their friends in those areas, for example, have been affected by second-hand smoke.
On the prospect of people smoking in outdoor areas where food is being served – with food only permitted to be served in outdoor areas, with the exception of hotels, until next month – Clancy said: "The idea that you would do this where there was food? I can't believe it, and I can't understand that this isn’t a direction from NPHET.
"Public health would demand that there must not be smoking where there's food, and where there are other people and where there are non-smokers who could and will be damaged by it."
"It's amazing to me, we watched this pandemic and we see the terrible mortality, so far, maybe 4,000 people,” Clancy added.
"During that time, at least 7,000 people have died from smoking-related diseases, something that's entirely preventable.
"We're restricting freedoms to protect against Covid, which is only partly effective. This could be really effective and is really effective and is causing greater mortality, and yet there seems to be some sort of resistance to bring it in.
"I cannot believe that NPHET do not say, or mandate, that they don't have smoking in outside areas."
A statement was issued to Newstalk Breakfast on behalf of smokers’ rights group Forest Ireland, in which spokesperson John Mallon said that a ban on outdoor smoking was “the last thing” the hospitality industry needs.
“There is no justification for banning smoking in outdoor spaces,” Mallon said.
“Smoking in the open air poses no health risk to anyone other than the smoker.”
In response, Clancy said: "Why bother having NPHET or health committees or specialists when we could get our information from Forest?
"They have never agreed to anything that has curtailed smoking, even though their own members are dying of it.”