News & Comment

Voice of the smoker not being heard, claims Forest Éireann

Thu 13th October, 2011

The voice of the Irish smoker is not being heard, according to John Mallon, spokesman for Forest Eireann.

Mallon will be visiting pubs throughout the country for the next fortnight, taking in eight counties and ten locations.

“Smokers are forced to stand outside or remain at home. Those hardest hit include the elderly, many of whom used to enjoy a drink and a smoke in their local bar,” the Cork man said, adding that reports have suggested that loneliness is a major cause of ill health, worse than lifelong smoking.

“Ireland’s tobacco control policies have been a disaster. Since the smoking ban was introduced in 2004 more than 1,000 pubs have closed. Many more have reduced their opening hours. Publicans have lost customers and bar workers have lost their jobs.”

Launching a smokers’ manifesto in February, John told the Cork Independent, “the anti-smoking movement has gone too far. Unwittingly, perhaps, some well-meaning campaigners are making many smokers’ lives a misery.

The manifesto asks the Government to respect the rights of adults who have made an informed choice to smoke tobacco in full knowledge of the health risks associated with this legal product.

It also asks to acknowledge, “the overwhelming majority of smokers are ordinary, decent, law-abiding adults whose habit does not affect their ability to make a positive contribution to Irish society”.

“Relax the smoking ban so that pubs and bars can provide smoking rooms that allow adults to smoke in greater comfort without bothering non-smokers; cut tobacco duty to tackle smuggling and reduce the temptation to buy tobacco abroad and treat one million voters with the respect they deserve.”

Travelling through Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny, Kerry, Limerick, Galway, Westport, Donegal, Dublin and Mayo, he will speak to publicans and consumers as he feels many people are disenfranchised from the political process.

During the tour, John will distribute copies of the Forest Eireann Smokers’ Manifesto and will discuss ‘Civil Liberties: Up In Smoke?’ a new report by the civil rights watchdog Privacy International.

“We support restrictions on public smoking but to ban smoking in every bar without exemption was unnecessary and draconian. The tobacco display ban and proposals to introduce picture warnings on packets and ban smoking in private vehicles suggest a movement that doesn’t know when to stop,” John added.

“But our concerns are not just about smoking. It’s about excessive government intervention in people’s daily lives, and that affects everybody, smokers and non‐ smokers alike.    

“What next? Will it be alcohol, sweets, crisps, fizzy drinks? If consumers don’t fight for their rights a host of other restrictions will surely follow.

Source: Cork Independent (13 October 2011)

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