IRELAND’S smokers are facing a US-style onslaught from the government over their smoking rights.
Smoking is banned inside most premises here, but in America, outdoor bans from pubs to public parks are quite common.
Since Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin brought in a ban on smoking in the workplace, the main extension to the legislation has consisted of James Reilly’s extension of the ban to smoking in cars where there are young children present.
Now, Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway is developing a raft of proposals to drive smoking underground.
The senator said that proposals he was suggesting would start by “banning smoking at bus stops”.
Conway is also planning to ban smoking outside railway stations, within a hundred feet of the front gates of schools, outside community centres and in the general area of youth clubs.
Conway claimed his proposal will protect “vulnerable people and others from having to contend with cigarette smoke when walking out the gates of public buildings”.
He said: “No parent with a child or pram should have to pass a group of people smoking when walking out the gate of the school.
“We have achieved a lot through the introduction of no-smoking zones, but we still have some distance to go.
“We need a Private Members Bill that would ban smoking within a certain distance of schools, bus stops, hospitals and other community and voluntary facilities.”
Conway told the Irish Sun: “When I get the brief to the legal people I expect the list to be significantly extended — it is growing all the time.
He noted, however, that non-State agency buildings, such as churches, would not be included at this point in time. He said his main concern is “mums with children in prams”.
Conway, who unveiled his proposal on Ash Wednesday, added: “I expect to have the Bill ready to go before the House after Easter. It is my Lenten penance.”
The senator’s proposals were slammed, however, by the pro-Smoking group Forest which warned of the ongoing war of “the Nanny State” against smokers.
A spokesperson said: “This ban is prejudice masquerading as science. The justification of the original ban was that smokers posed a threat to health.
“This is not the case here. The senator is engaging in nothing more than theatrics informed by tobacco-phobia. He should remember smoking is not illegal. This is just intolerance and subjective reasoning.”
Soon, Forest added, “the right to smoke will be like having a car that you can only drive in the driveway”.