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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 18 Oct 1978

Vol. 308 No. 4

Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Bill, 1978: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Before reporting progress I wish to refer to the portion of the Bill which seeks to curtail sponsorship by the tobacco industry. I wish to point out to the Minister that I am in full agreement with him on this point provided that innocent people for whom sponsorship in sport provided a sporting outlet are not victimised. If the Minister sought to curtail or refuse moneys from these sources he himself should see to it that the shortfall would be made up by direct sponsorship by him or his Department. Having got this undertaking I would be in full agreement with the Minister. In the absence of such an undertaking grave doubts will be cast on the success of the provisions of this Bill.

Great play has been made of the fact that tobacco companies have no interest whatever in the sport they sponsor, let it be horse racing, show jumping, golf, water skiing, motor racing or any other sport. I would not be one bit worried or concerned about what motivates such people to give money. It is a question I would not give any thought to as long as the people who participated in that sport were the beneficiaries. The fact that a particular tobacco company has a genuine interest in a particular sport and because of that genuine interest provides sponsorship for that sport in no way minimises the adverse effects which the product of that tobacco company may have on people's health. But what motivates those people ought not worry us at all. Personally, I do not think the question arises. There has been a substantial involvement by tobacco companies in many aspects of sport and the sponsorship thereof for many years. This sponsorship has served to provide facilities and a chance for involvement by people in sport which otherwise would not be possible.

Deputy Browne has stated that the Minister cannot hope to succeed when he takes on the massive vested interests of these people. I do not think that this is so. The Minister in his wisdom would not seek a confrontation with these massive vested interests, and they are massive interests. It is a question of producing a Bill which will make the involvement of these people as sponsors redundant and again it comes back to the provision of the moneys which these people would provide if it were acceptable. Otherwise the approach is a negative one and it is in conflict with the Minister's stated policy concerning involvement by the general public in outdoor activities, pastimes and leisure time sporting activities.

Apart from that negative approach we are also entering the realm of prohibition and we all know what history and experience has taught us in that field. Prohibition, in the sense that it is generally understood, has not worked. I attended a boarding school where cigarette smoking was prohibited and in fact this prohibition was nothing more than an incentive to smoke and not be caught smoking. Human nature being what it is, it was natural to react in that way to that kind of situation.

While the Minister, as has been stated here, has outlined in what can be regarded as a detailed litany of disaster what the effects of smoking are—and I think most of these ill-effects have been well documented and categorised and are well known to the smoking public—the fact is despite all their knowledge they cannot give up smoking. So the logical approach would be a massive educational campaign. There are literally tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of people here, and I am one of them, hoping that some day somebody will tell them how to give up smoking. That is the kind of public we are dealing with. They are just waiting for someone to come along and say: "this is how one gives up smoking." So far as I know the Minister was a smoker at one stage so I would ask him how he gave up smoking. He will probably tell me that he gave it up through strength of character or strength of will and so on.

No. I have a little trick that I will tell the Deputy about later.

It would not be the first trick.

The Minister could let the House know later.

We usually find out about the Minister's tricks about two weeks after they happen.

Two years.

I am talking about the trick in regard to smoking. That would be a much more positive approach and if the Minister has a trick he should let the country know because there are thousands of people waiting with bated breath to see when they can draw a full breath properly again.

Debate adjourned.