Estimates, 1988. - Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) Bill, 1988: Committee and Final Stages.

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2.

I move amendment No. a. 1:

In page 3, subsection (1), line 5, after "may," to insert the following:

"having regard to the rights of non-smokers and smokers respectively,"

While the Labour Party fully support the intention of this section, which would give powers to the Minister to make by way of regulation a prohibition or restriction on the consumption of tobacco products in designated areas and in certain facilities, one aspect we have given much consideration to is the plight of those who are addicted to smoking and who would literally despair if there was a blanket prohibition in all circumstances on the facilities listed in subsection (2). For instance, the prohibition in subsection (2) (a) could extend — obviously, this would be a matter for order — to a total prohibition of smoking on aircraft or trains. It would be inconceivable for people who are addicted to smoking on aircraft or trains. It would be inconceivable for people who are addicted to smoking to have an absolute blanket prohibition on smoking on a very long journey. Take, for example, a journey by train from Dublin to Killarney. It would be impossible for someone who is addicted to smoking simply not to smoke for that length of time. The choice open to them would be either to simply not use public transport or alternatively to break the law. I believe that many people who are compulsive and addicted nicotinetakers would be driven to despair and would break the law in these circumstances.

That was the motivation behind this amendment. We tried to find a form of wording that would have the effect of allowing the Minister to make proper health regulations that would protect the common good and achieve a smoke-free environment for the majority who want it but which would put some obligation on the Minister to have regard at some stage to those in the community who are addicted to smoking so that some facility on long plane or train journeys would be provided for those people. It is reasonable to have that provision in the Bill because many people who are smokers fear that their situation will be ignored completely and that a blanket prohibition will be brought into play once the regulations are published.

Since I did not have an opportunity of giving my views on the Bill on Second Stage because I was out of Dublin at the time, I should like to say that I welcome the Bill almostin toto but with a number of reservations which I will outline tonight.

Like other Deputies I have been lobbied by groups over the past number of months with regard to the effects of this legislation and, in particular, the effect it will have on the tobacco industry, specifically in Dublin and Dundalk. I have read many of the submissions that have come into this House, but they have not convinced me in any way that smoking does not endanger health, be it direct smoking or passive smoking. Besides the health implications, there are also the economic considerations. We import £50 million of tobacco leaf every year and we spend £500 million on tobacco. The health and economic implications are major and the cost to the country as a whole is quite considerable.

In relation to passive smoking, it has been proved conclusively to me that passive smoking is a danger to health and that many of the chemicals that are inhaled by passive smokers are as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than the chemicals that are inhaled by the mainstream smokers. American and European studies have proved that conclusively to my satisfaction. I am not going to bore the House by going through the figures which I have. Therefore, the question which arises in relation to this section is whether we legislate for everybody or whether we take into consideration the rights of smokers. I believe we have to achieve a balance and the amendment I have put forward strikes that balance so that we can cater for the percentage of people who are smokers in the areas outlined in the section. I ask the Minister to accept my amendment.

I propose to deal with amendments Nos. a. 1 and 1 together. While I appreciate the points made by Deputy Howlin and Deputy Allen, I do not propose to accept either amendment. There are a number of reasons why I do not think it would be correct to accept these amendments.

Section 2 of the Bill gives the Minister for Health a general power to prohibit or restrict smoking in designated areas or facilities. Subsection (2) (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) simply highlight the specific public areas which I would regard as priority areas for the enactment of these controls.

In his 1986 report on "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking", the United States Surgeon General states:

The scientific case against involuntary smoking as a health risk is more than sufficient to justify appropriate remedial action, and the goal of any remedial action must be to protect the non-smoker from environmental tobacco smoke.

The goal of section 2 of this Bill is similar in that it is intended to protect the health of non-smokers. Therefore, given this objective, I must, as Minister for Health, retain ultimate discretion to exercise my responsibility in protecting public health.

In making regulations for the control of smoking in particular areas or facilities I will, of course, consult with all the interested parties. Any legitimate concerns which are presented regarding such issues as safety will, of course, be considered when drafting the regulations.

The medical evidence indicates that the simple separation of smokers and non-smokers within the same air space may reduce, but does not eliminate, the exposure of non-smokers to environmental tobacco smoke. Therefore, to ensure adequate protection in enclosed indoor areas for the majority of the non-smoking population, I will wish to be assured that effective segregation is possible before considering partial restrictions on smoking. The detailed consultations to which I am committed in making these regulations will examine the potential for effective segregation in specific public areas or facilities and will provide a rational basis for the detailed provisions of the regulations.

With regard specifically to public transport vehicles and trains referred to by both Deputy Allen and Deputy Howlin, I would again quote the examples of the DART and Dublin Bus to indicate how successfully total prohibitions on smoking can operate on short distance public transport. In the case of long distance public transport, I would be prepared to consider partial prohibitions on smoking on the basis which I have already outlined. However, I must retain the general power to decide this issue on its merits at any given time and in view of the medical evidence that might prevail at any given time.

While I totally accept the thrust of the Minister's argument and in normal circumstances would fully accept the proposal in the Bill before us, to reassure those who are a significant minority now in the community who have to be encouraged and helped to give up smoking, a blanket prohibition in all circumstances is not the way to go about it. I fully accept that the Minister has no intention of having this type of blanket prohibition. Thankfully, I am a non-smoker and I must say that I find it offensive to be in a confined space with smokers. Non-smokers have a right to expect a smoke-free environment and that is basically what the Bill is aiming at.

Equally, we must make some provision for smokers. If the Minister is not willing to accept the amendments before him, at least he should give an assurance that people who are forced by circumstances to be confined for long periods in either a particular facility or a service vehicle would have their rights taken into account when the regulations are being formed. It would be a little bit much to ask that somebody who was going to spend four or five hours in a train, or seven or eight hours in a trans-Atlantic jet, would have no opportunity in any circumstances to smoke. That would be an unreasonable imposition to apply. I am sure that the Minister does not intend that.

The aim supported by all sides of this House, and strongly supported by the Labour Party, is to have a smoke-free environment for the majority who do not want to smoke and who should not have themselves assaulted as passive smokers by those who want to smoke. Equally, there must be some balance. The rights of the majority to have a smoke-free environment must be paramount, but there must be some balance in circumstances and on a very long journey or a long confinement the smoker should have some facility at his disposal. That right to be considered is my objective in putting down the amendment.

I rise briefly to support the Minister and to indicate my total opposition to both amendments. I am disappointed that these amendments have been put down. It indicates that parties and persons proposing these amendments are not seriously committed to eliminating this health hazard from our environment.

Ban smoking, then. That is our objective.

The Minister's approach in the Bill is very progressive and I fully support it.

Democratic.

It is practically bordering on the criminal to allow smoking in aircraft and other confined spaces where the non-smoker becomes an involuntary smoker because of inhalation, despite the fact that he himself is not smoking. The medical evidence is irrefutable that non-smokers in a smoky environment do suffer health damage. I have practical reasons for believing that. I know of people who suffer severe problems when caught in such an environment.

To argue a case here in favour of people who may be sitting in an airplane crossing the Atlantic for six hours, that it is unfair to deny them the opportunity of smoking for that length of time is wrong. I think we are doing them a great favour in providing a statutory prohibition on their smoking for that period. It would be doing a serious injustice to the non-smokers to force them for those six hours to become involuntary smokers.

This Bill is all about making decisions in this whole area and there has been a great deal of prevarication up to now. The medical evidence is so strong that it has motivated the Minister to bring forward this Bill. Either we are committed to doing something positive or we continue with prevarication. You cannot have it both ways. Where people are caught as passengers in a confined space, smoking should be absolutely prohibited and we should move into that type of legislation now. There have been people who have suffered because of lack of such legislation up to now. I encourage the Minister to continue his resistance to these two amendments and to adopt a very firm line. He has my full support.

The whole principle of total prohibition in any sphere leads to law breaking by even the most respectable citizens. I submit, with all due respect to Deputy Molloy, that anybody crossing the Atlantic in a total smoke-free area will go to the toilet area and smoke there, breaking the law. I think that we learned, as far back as Chicago in the thirties, that total prohibition does not work. Suddenly to deny 20 or 30 per cent of the population who are now smoking the right to smoke is unwise.

The Deputy should have supported our rod licence Bill if he wished to follow that principle.

If we are going to have a reasonable debate here tonight to finish at a reasonable time, let us stick to the subject before us. A surprise omission in this Bill — I did not have an opportunity to speak on Second Stage — is the whole question of restaurants. This Bill does not deal with no smoking areas there.

It is covered.

Could the Minister clarify that point? Total prohibition does not work.

This is really the nub of the Bill. It has created much concern. I represent a constituency in which several hundred people are employed in the tobacco industry. Nobody there would say that cigarettes are good for your health and the trade unions involved have been endeavouring to try to encourage Carrolls, for example, to set up an alternative industry so that employment can be made secure for these people. The situation in Dundalk is bad enough, with the highest level of unemployment in the country. That must be recognised. It may not be directly connected with health in the sense of smoking but it is a matter of great concern to people in Dundalk. The point has been made very clearly by my colleague, Deputy Howlin, that we are not suggesting there should not be restrictions on smoking in certain circumstances. The best example you can get of a reasonable compromise is in this Chamber where smoking is never allowed. However, a smoking room is provided where Members can have a cigarette.

Alcohol is also a big killer but no one has suggested that we should close all the pubs and breweries. That was tried in America many years ago but it did not succeed. Banning smoking will not succeed either and there must be some compromise. For some people, the right to smoke is very important and it can help in alleviating nervous complaints. Many psychiatric units would have more patients if people could not smoke. There must be a balance and I am glad the Minister indicated that when the regulations are being considered there will be consultation with interested parties, public transport companies and so on and that some consideration will be given to that. The same situation should apply in public buildings. This is a public building but if the Minister issued a regulation that smoking would be banned in Leinster House I wonder how many Deputies in all parties would agree to it.

There is provision in section 2(1) to deal with restaurants. Deputy Bell made an interesting point when he drew the analogy with public houses. This important legislation is a response to public opinion as two-thirds of the public want a smoke-free atmosphere, including people who smoke. On the question of the regulations, we will consult the various interested parties. We need balance but a Minister for Health must ensure that the health of the people is protected. Circumstances may vary as more and more evidence becomes available. Tobacco smoking is more and more incriminated and one does not know what the circumstances may be in five or ten years' time. The legislation allows for the prohibition or the restriction on use of tobacco products. In that context, when the regulations are being drawn up they will have regard to the various issues raised. For example, in the United States, cigarette smoking is banned on all short haul flights although on long distance flights smoking is allowed in certain areas. The only consideration in drawing up the regulations will be public health.

I want to restate the consensus that emerged on Second Stage of the Bill from all parties, our desire to create a smoke-free community and environment for all our people. That has never been at issue and we are now discussing the best method of achieving that objective. While the Minister has the enthusiastic support of the Labour Party to achieve a smoke-free environment and while the Labour Party holds as a fundamental principle the right of every individual to have a smoke-free environment, if he or she so chooses, the point in the amendment is that on the way to achieving that perfect solution a couple of steps must be taken. We cannot, at a stroke, decide that one third of the population who are currently addicted to smoking do not exist and do not have any rights and that the rights of the majority in all circumstances must be the only ones taken into account. We know that the rule of the simple majority is not always the best.

To achieve the desired objective, shared by all parties in the House, consideration must be shown to the minority who smoke. They should be encouraged, helped and cajoled to give up smoking and given tax incentives to give up the foul practice but until 95 per cent of the population do not smoke some provision must be made for those who are addicted. If, as Deputy Molloy would have us believe, we will achieve the ideal solution of a non-smoking environment instantly, then we would not have this Bill before us, we would have a tobacco banning Bill, a legislative measure to ban cigarette production, smoking and sale. We have not decided to go about it in that way; we must achieve the consensus desired in a reasonable way.

I welcome the Minister's comments that he will take on board miniority rights in regard to smoking while holding the fundamental principle of the health of the majority, which is his responsibility as Minister for Health. For those reasons, I will not be pressing my amendment.

Deputy Howlin does not have the right to misinterpret what I said, which was that there should be a total ban on smoking where people were travelling in confined spaces and that, because of the now proven danger to people's health from involuntary smoking, it was time for us to make the decision not to allow smoking in places such as aeroplanes. Any concerned medical consultant will support that point of view and any concerned person who is anxious to improve the general health of the community will also support it.

Because of the proven damage to a person's health from involuntary smoking, it is now intolerable that people should be subjected to it. This largely applies to people travelling in a confined space such as an aeroplane, the only case I mentioned. The Minister's Bill refers to trains, public service vehicles or other facilities. In aircraft, where substantially large numbers of people are confined to a very small area, smoking should be banned. I did not advocate the total banning of tobacco smoking and Deputy Howlin did his own case an injustice by misquoting me. His amendment seeks to water down the Bill and I hope he will not press it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 1 not moved.
Section 2 agreed to.
Section 3 agreed to.
SECTION 4.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are related, so for the purposes of debate, with the agreement of the House, we will discuss amendments Nos. 2 and 3 together. Agreed.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, line 18, to delete ", offers to sell or makes available," and substitute "or offers to sell".

On the Second Stage of the Bill I indicated that I found a certain incongruity in the phrasing of this section and I undertook to provide an amendment on this Stage, until the Minister clarified the intention. Indeed, a member of the Minister's party commenting in the debate indicated that he regarded the wording here as being very loose. The point at issue in section 4 is that any person who sells, offers to sell or make available cigarettes to a person other than in packets of ten will be liable to summary conviction and to a fine not exceeding £500. The intention is to protect children from being offered loose cigarettes and it is a laudable intention which I fully support. However, the implication of the section as drafted is that anybody who offers a cigarette to a friend is in breach of the law because to offer a cigarette is to make a cigarette available in a unit of less than ten. My amendment seeks to delete "makes available" and simply confine it to "offers to sell" which would achieve the objective of the Minister, which is to prohibit the sale of loose cigarettes which is unanimously accepted as being an undesirable practice, one that introduces young children with limited spending money to the evils of tobacco. My amendment would achieve that end but it would not criminalise every individual who offers a cigarette to a friend.

My amendment ensures that an individual offering a cigarette to a friend will not become a criminal in breach of the law. My amendment sets out to eliminate the practice where shops on street corners near schools make cigarettes available in ones and twos. I support the idea behind the section. My amendment also sets out to eliminate the practice of offering a cigarette along with some other items in a shop, and it should be accepted as it achieves the Minister's objective.

The amendments proposed by Deputy Howlin and Deputy Allen reflect the concern that section 4 as drafted would extend to the making available of cigarettes, for example, within the privacy of a family home or at a private function. This was not the intention of the section. The section was intended to prohibit the making available of cigarettes singly or in packets of less than ten in conjunction with the sale of another product such as sweets. This provision is primarily intended to extend the protections within the Bill in relation to the supply of cigarettes to young people. While I accept the concern expressed by Deputy Howlin with regard to the wording of the section his amendment would not be an adequate safeguard against the indirect sale and supply of tobacco to young people. The amendment proposed by Deputy Allen ensures that the indirect sale or supply of cigarettes will be prohibited under section 4 of the Bill and I intend to accept Deputy Allen's amendment No. 3.

I take it that Deputy Howlin is not pressing amendment No. 2?

In the circumstances, the objective will have been achieved with the acceptance of Deputy Allen's amendment. I thank the Minister for accepting the amendment and for rectifying the loose wording of the section.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, line 18, after "or makes available" to insert "in relation to the sale of any other product".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
Section 5 agreed to.
SECTION 6.

As amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 are related, with the agreement of the House, for the purposes of discussion we will take amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 together. Agreed.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, subsection (1), lines 7 and 8, to delete "an oral smokeless tobacco product" and substitute "goods described in subsection (2) of this section".

This amendment seeks simply to delete "an oral smokeless tobacco product" and substitute "goods described in subsection (2) of this section". Amendment No. 5 is a substitution for subsection (2), to substituted:

(2) The goods to which this section applies are products or substances, made wholly or partly from tobacco, consisting of fine cut, ground, or particulate matter prepared, sold or advertised for oral use in unlit form

but excluding any chewing tobacco within the meaning of the Finance (Excise Duty on Tobacco Products) Act, 1977. The purpose of these two amendments is to address a matter I raised on Second Stage. I understand that the objective of the Minister in section 6 is the laudable objective of outlawing the product known as Skoal Bandits and sister products that are carcinogenic, unhealthy, unwholesome and undesirable. The Minister's predecessor, Deputy Desmond, tried some years ago to have a prohibition on these products by using existing legislation which was found eventually to beultra vires and struck down. The World Health Organisation have regarded these products as being unsafe. During the course of my Second Stage speech I quoted extensively from a variety of sources, from the World Health Organisation, to the British Dental Journal, to Lancet, quoting the evidence that these products were dangerous and should be banned. I am in total accord with the Minister's objective.

I seek in these two amendments to protect chewing tobacco from the rigours of the law in this regard. There are a number of senior citizens in our community who have had the practice for many decades now, of chewing tobacco and it would be difficult for them to accommodate themselves to a blanket ban on chewing tobacco at this stage of their lives. I seek to protect chewing tobacco from the full rigours of the law that would apply once this Bill is passed.

I had some difficulty in wording a suitable amendment to include the variety of oral tobacco products while at the same time protecting chewing tobacco. I referred to the Finance (Excise Duty on Tobacco Products) Act, 1977, because that is the first time that chewing tobacco is specifically mentioned in legislation, in the Second Schedule to that Act. The definition is broadened in Statutory Instrument No. 296 of 1979. Chewing tobacco is clearly defined in section 5 (2), where the term "chewing tobacco" is specifically recognised in legislation in detailed form for the first time. Under Statutory Instrument 296 of 1979 chewing tobacco means tobacco in the form of rolls, sticks, strips, cubes or blocks, put up for retail sale and specially prepared to be chewed but not smoked. I understand that that definition is also included in a European directive.

In summary, the import of the amendments which I have summarised are to support in total the ambition of the Minister to outlaw Skoal Bandits, sister and related products, that are proven to be carcinogenic and totally undesirable, but to allow at the same time some avenue of light for the tiny minority in our community who use chewing tobacco. I hope the Minister will achieve his objective while protecting the rights of a small number of people.

I put forward my amendment bearing in mind also the rights of the individual who still uses chewing tobacco. For that reason, I put down this amendment but having heard the evidence tonight of the different forms of chewing tobacco which are available and having heard the other evidence available to others outside the House, I feel that by pressing my amendment I would be making the legislation ineffective and would be opening the door to companies who would bring in different variations of chewing tobacco. It would make the present legislation very difficult. I have been made aware of the different types of products now available, both in the United States and in Europe, ranging from chewing tobacco to Skoal Bandits and chocolate bars with nicotine as a constituent and there is even a toothpaste with a nicotine constituent. Because of all the new products which are being introduced I think that pressing my amendment would be wrong and would open the door for these types of products and would allow them on to the Irish market. For that reason I will not be pressing my amendment. I realise also that 3 per cent of Carrolls hard tobacco products is chewing tobacco. More and more elderly people are now chewing ordinary hard plug tobacco. When I take all this into consideration I believe there is no point in pressing my amendment.

My colleague, Deputy Howlin, has outlined the position. Naturally we would be supporting not only the aims of the Minister in this regard but also those of our colleague, the former Minister for Health. Carrolls, in Dundalk, have made chewing tobacco or pipe tobacco since the company was formed. I do not think it was the Minister's intention effectively to eliminate the production of that type of tobacco which is enjoyed mainly by a very small minority of elderly people. Very few of the younger generation would chew the traditional plug or hard tobacco. I do not think that was the intention. We support the aim in section 6. We would ask that it be put on the record that it is not the intention to virtually eliminate the manufacturing of the old pipe or chewing tobacco as manufactured in Dundalk for a century or more.

In recent years a wide variety of smokeless tobacco products have been developed and promoted in North America, Scandinavia and more recently within the European Community. These products are being promoted to young people as an alternative way to enjoy tobacco and it is estimated by the World Health Organisation that about 10 million people, mostly teenagers, in the United States of America are now using these products. These products cause serious health problems. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organisation, have determined that there is sufficient evidence that these products cause oral cancer. The use of these products also causes serious dental damage. Continual use can cause white patches, known as leukoplakia, to appear on the gums. Some of these white patches may subsequently become cancerous. The use of these products can also cause dental damage due to a receding of the gums where the tobacco regularly comes in contact with the mouth. In June 1987 a World Health Organisation study group on smokeless tobacco control recommended a "pre-emptive" total ban on the importation, production and sale of all types of smokeless tobacco.

As Minister for Health, I am deeply concerned at the potential availability in this country of the type of chewing tobaccos which are being promoted in other countries and directed at young people as safe alternatives to smoking. The scientific and medical evidence relating to the range of oral smokeless tobaccos, including chewing tobaccos, is such that it would be remiss of me as Minister for Health not to provide comprehensive legislation protecting the public against these products. To exempt any specific oral smokeless tobacco could not be justified on health grounds and an exemption of a specific class of an oral smokeless product would leave the legislation wide open for exploitation. Given the current developments by the tobacco industry internationally of new forms of tobacco consumption I have no doubt that any gaps in the law would encourage the development and promotion of the products exempted.

The range and variety of oral smokeless tobacco products now being promoted is remarkable and is evidence of how the industry is trying to diversify the ways in which tobacco is marketed. There are varieties of solid chewing tobaccos and finely cut tobaccos which are either loose or in tea-bag sachets such as the Skoal Bandits, intended to be placed in the mouth and sucked or chewed, powdered moist tobacco products for sucking and even toothpastes and confectionery products containing tobacco.

Because of the serious health risks posed by these addictive carcinogenic products and because it is likely that their promotion would result in a new generation of tobacco users at the very time when tobacco smoking is being discouraged the Government decided that the full range of oral smokeless tobacco products should be prohibited.

The Deputies' amendments seek to exempt two types of tobacco products from the controls proposed in the Bill. The first of these is solid chewing tobacco which Deputy Howlin wished to have exempted from this Bill. The point made by Deputy Allen is correct, that of the hard pressed tobaccos manufactured by Carrolls only 3 per cent of them consist of a special chewing roll.

In reply to Deputy Bell's concern, I want to assure the House that there is no intention of banning the sale of pipe tobacco or the ordinary plug tobacco to which he referred. The second product which Deputy Allen wishes to have exempted from the provisions of the Bill is nasal snuff. I should say that nasal snuff is not affected at all by the provisions of section 6. The International Agency for Research on Cancer found that there was inadequate evidence that the nasal use of snuff is carcinogenic and it is specifically exempted from the definition of an oral smokeless tobacco product set out in section 6 of the Bill.

I have to take on board much of what the Minister has said. I would in no way seek to leave any avenue open for exploitation. I fully acknowledge that there is a thriving commercial market out there which would probably seek to push a coach and four through any chink in this Bill. For that reason I must be aware and cognisant of the cogent case made by the Minister. He has answered the points raised in my amendment, and raised more particularly in my Second Stage contribution, that it is not the intention of the Minister or it is not a consequence of this section to outlaw plug tobacco or pipe tobacco which is freely available and which is chewed by a tiny number of people. Once the assurance has been given that the rights of those people will be taken into consideration I am reluctant to push my amendment particularly if it will result, as the Minister indicated, in a chink being left in the Bill to allow the large commercial companies that exist in Scandinavia and the United States introduce into the Irish market products we all recognise to be carcinogenic. For that reason, I accept the Minister's assurance.

Amendment by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.
Section 6 agreed to.
Sections 7 to 9, inclusive, agreed
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 6, before section 10, to insert the following new section:

"10.—Every regulation under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made for ratification.".

The Minister has given assurances in regard to future regulations and I do not doubt his word, but the Dáil should have some control over any regulations introduced. Therefore, I am proposing that every regulation made under this Bill should be laid before the Dáil for ratification as soon as they are made. The Dáil should be able to monitor any regulations that are introduced. There are sensitive issues involved in this legislation and, while I do not doubt the Minister's word in regard to the regulations, the House should have some control over their introduction.

The normal procedure in regard to a Bill of this type is that the regulations are laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after they are made. If a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either House within the next 21 days on which the House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder. The effect of the amendment would be to introduce a totally new concept in legislation of this kind and would be a general policy issue. I do not think it is appropriate to introduce it in this legislation.

I accept what the Minister has said in regard to the amendment having policy implications. However, all Members feel aggrieved that so much legislation is introduced by way of statutory instrument. Indeed, an Oireachtas Joint Committee which tried to monitor statutory instruments over a period of time came to the conclusion that a huge proportion of the rules, regulations and laws that govern the lives of our people are introduced by way of statutory instrument. I support the concept that regulations should have the positive approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas rather than being automatically approved unless annulled by way of motion.

In the ordinary course of events many regulations come into force without the knowledge of the majority of Members of this or the other House. We must address this principle and try to find some way of dealing with it. It may not be possible to have every regulation brought before the House but there should be some way of monitoring regulations and statutory instruments so that there can be some democratic veto by the elected assemblies over these matters.

I concur with most of what has been said by Deputy Howlin. I do not support the amendment but I agree with the concern expressed in it. As far as I am concerned, the intention of the Bill is clear and it should be the prerogative of the Minister to make regulations as he sees fit. However, a difficulty arises because of a lack of procedures under which Members are adequately informed about the regulations that are made. As Deputy Howlin said, a huge volume of regulations are being introduced. It is the method under which most legislative action is taken by the Government, but Members of the House are not adequately informed of them.

I should like to ask the Minister to give an indication if he and the Government will introduce a system under which Members will be informed of regulations and are given an Explanatory Memorandum. It is often the case that the notification received does not clearly indicate the intention of the regulation. That is where communications fall down. Rather than supporting Deputy Allen's amendment, which is most restrictive and would limit the Minister's ability to make regulations — we are all aware of the difficulty involved in bringing legislation before the House — we should introduce a new arrangement to improve the method of communication in regard to regulations that are made. They should be explained in an Explanatory Memorandum. If it set out what is proposed and the reason for the regulation, it would meet the need adequately. I do not see the need for the amendment but I support the intention behind it.

The powers of the House are being eroded and have been over a period of time. We will have regulations introduced shortly in relation to food, but the House should have a right to assess it before it is made. I will be dealing with some of the decisions by the Minister that require amending legislation in the course of the debate on the Health Estimate tomorrow. We are becoming careless and somewhat slip-shod in our approach to regulations and legislation. Advisory committees on health boards have been abolished and, while I am not agreeing or disagreeing with that decision, it is important to point out that amending legislation is required to implement that proposal; but it has not being brought before the House.

I accept the point that this involves a broader argument and that it is something that must be looked at later. I will not press my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
SECTION 10.
Question proposed: "That section 10 stand part of the Bill."

Will the Minister give the House an indication of the type of regulation he intends introducing? Will he say when he proposes introducing the regulations? Has the Minister carried out any preparatory work on the regulations he intends introducing in the event of the Bill being passed? If so, will he give us an indication of the type of regulations he proposes?

Section 2(2) gives a general indication of the broad spectrum within which the regulations will be made. Subsection (2) states:

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, regulations under this section may do all or any of the following:

(a) prohibit or restrict the consumption of tobacco products in such aircraft, train, public service vehicle or other facility as may be specified;

(b) prohibit or restrict the consumption of tobacco products in such part of a health premises as may be specified;

(c) prohibit or restrict the consumption of tobacco products in such part of a school, as may be specified;

(d) prohibit or restrict the consumption of tobacco products in such part as may be specified of a building to which the public has access and which belongs to, or is in the occupation of—

(i) the State, or

(ii) a body established by or under an Act of the Oireachtas;

(e) prohibit or restrict the consumption of tobacco products in a cinema, theatre, concert hall or in such other place of indoor public entertainment as may be specified.

As I have said, that is a broad outline of the type of areas for which regulations will be made. As the Deputies know, the legislation has still to be debated in the Upper House. Following the passage of the legislation through both Houses and the signature by the President it is my intention that there would be no delay in the enactment of the legislation. As the Deputies know, next year is European Year against Cancer and we would certainly wish to have this legislation and the regulations on the Statute Book long before the beginning of that year.

The Minister's reply is not very informative. He just indicated to the House what his powers will be and we understand that. What will the Minister's intention be when the Act is in place? Has he done preparatory work? Does he intend to introduce regulations immediately to prohibit smoking in aircraft, in supermarkets and in cinemas? Can he not give the House some clear indication as to his own thinking? After all, he brought in this Bill. I accept that his intention is to act and not to let the Bill lie on the shelf. Surely the Minister has some idea of the type of regulation that he will bring in. I am only asking what are they and when will they be brought in. Bills have been introduced and Ministers have been given power to do certain things under regulation, but they have not always acted. This is the only opportunity we have of hearing what the current Minister for Health's intention is. I applaud him for bringing forward the Bill but it is absolutely essential for us to know what his intention is in regard to his use of these powers, when he intends to introduce regulations and what areas they are to cover.

I wish to tease out the matter further. This is the most crucial aspect of the entire legislation before us. Section 2 which the Minister has read out to us is the enabling power to the Minister to make regulations. If we are simply going to be a body which hands over powers and then washes our hands of it, we will not be told the Minister's intention. On Second Stage many Deputies in this House said that a very comprehensive list of enabling powers are included in the Bill, but what are the Minister's intentions? In relation to the Minister's power to either prohibit or restrict the consumption of tobacco products on aircraft, has he given any consideration to how he will use that power should it be enacted? For instance, will he restrict smoking on flights below a certain duration, will it be prohibited on flights of less than one hour or will there be some prohibition on flights of more than an hour? Has the Minister thought out his views on these matters? We should be given some indication of his thoughts at this stage. That is the real meat of the powers that this House is now being asked to devolve to the Minister.

I have certainly thought out my own personal position on many of these matters but I feel that it is necessary to have consultation on them. Earlier I mentioned the position in regard to aircraft in the United States. On short haul flights of less than two hours cigarette smoking is totally prohibited and on long haul flights smoking is allowed in certain designated parts of the aircraft.

What is the Minister going to do in this regard?

Let us hear the Minister without interruption.

I am attracted to that situation. I will be consulting with my colleague, the Minister for Transport, and we will be drawing up regulations accordingly, as I said earlier, having regard to the public health of the people.

This is the last opportunity we will have of discussing the matter in any great detail. It is clear that the Minister has introduced the Bill possibly with a view to tackling cancer in the European Year against Cancer. I am very disappointed that the Minister should just recite to us what the Americans have done. Tonight we are giving the Minister power to do certain things in this area as they affect our jurisdiction. I had hoped that the Minister would have indicated very clearly what he intends to do. From what he has said so far, I think he has given the matter very little thought.

As I have said, I am not pressing the amendment. I accept the Minister's word that he has his own thoughts on the regulations. I think his concern is to get this legislation through the House tonight. My concern is not with the Minister's thought or with the regulations. When they are published we will have an opportunity under the present system of accepting or rejecting the regulations. My concern is that this legislation will go through the Seanad and be enacted as fast as possible. I accept the Minister's word that he has his own thoughts on the matter and that he has to consult with the interested groups and with his colleagues, now that he knows the format of the legislation. I hope it is brought into law as soon as possible.

It is quite clear that this Bill is going to be passed. There is an order of the House which says that all Stages will be put at 11 p.m. if not reached earlier. There is no fear about that aspect of the matter. On section 10 we are trying to tease out the Minister's intentions by way of regulation. The Bill means nothing until the Minister brings in regulations. The Minister has given us a brief glimpse of his intentions in relation to transport. Can we ask similarly what are his intentions in relation to section (2) (e) of the Bill in regard to cinemas, theatres, concert halls or other such places of indoor public entertainment? Is the Minister now disposed to having a blanket prohibition on smoking in these public places? Will he indicate his thinking on that at this stage?

Firstly, I will deal with the point raised by Deputy Molloy about my reference to the United States and what happens there. I was just drawing his attention to the fact that I had referred to short haul and long haul flights within the United States. Of course the same criteria would not apply in Ireland because we do not have long haul flights within the State. Obviously no Minister could draw up regulations for a Bill until it is passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas and until the Members of both Houses have decided what they wish to see in the legislation. It is my intention to look at that question. Some of the Deputies were concerned about long distance trains. I have to take account of what the Deputies have said when I am drawing up the regulations and see how we can reconcile all the various views.

In relation to the consumption of tobacco products in health premises, my initial inclination is that they should be banned. On the question raised by Deputy Howlin about various indoor places of entertainment my initial inclination is that cigarette smoking should be banned in cinemas. Until such time as the legislation has passed through the Houses of the Oireachtas, I do not think any Minister could be expected to say exactly what the regulations would be.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 11 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill put through Committee, and reported with amendment.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

May I warmly congratulate the Minister on the enactment of this specially important public health legislation to protect public health in a singular way. In the years ahead, the Minister may reflect that this was the most important measure enacted by him during his period in office. I want to stress that we have had cross party support in the enactment of those measures over the past ten years, since the then Minister for Health, Deputy Haughey, introduced the first extremely important Act in 1978. But it has been a hard ten years. It has been a very difficult series of regulations arising from the 1978 Act. It has, and will, be seen as a decade of very major advance. The potential threat of the AIDS virus is horrific, but the actual damage caused day in and day out from the universal epidemic of smoking is infinitely greater.

Cigarette smoking is still the single largest preventable cause of illness in this country and throughout the western world. Even while we talk, some 17,000 deaths this year, or almost half of all the deaths in the country, will be directly attributable to diseases associated with smoking. About one in eight regular smokers die from tobacco and related coronary diseases. One in 15 regular smokers die from bronchitis and emphesyma. One in ten die from lung cancer as a direct result of smoking. These frightening statistics should have a great impact particularly on young women of child-bearing age, especially when they see the havoc smoking causes to themselves and their children. There is no need for me to go any further into this sad reality. With the Minister I appeal to young people who are smoking to realise the extraordinary danger they are in and to stop smoking.

I congratulate the Minister and the Government on their persistence over the past 15 months in bringing forward this legislation. I am particularly delighted that the Skoal Bandits have been covered in the legislation because I had enormous difficulty trying to find an effective statutory framework to prevent that dreadful product being imported, manufactured and distributed within the Republic. We are unique in Europe in that regard. I do not want to cavil on a party political basis, but despite my reservations — and the Minister knows they were considerable — about the abolition of the Health Education Bureau, his health promotion unit within the framework of the Department of Health will devote considerable attention to maintaining the enormous impetus of the Health Education Bureau in dealing with public health education on smoking. I urge the Minister to work very hard in that regard.

I am sure the Minister will take it in the proper spirit when I thank two and many more public servants who have been involved in this area. An assistant secretary in the Department retired a couple of months ago, Dr. Joe Robins. He campaigned within the public health framework unceasingly during his life-time to bring about those changes. He worked with a succession of Ministers, from the then Minister for Health, Deputy Haughey, in 1978 up to 1988 to bring about that fundamental change. I also want to thank the current secretary who in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987 — but particularly in 1985 and 1986 — had to face the combined opposition of the tobacco companies and many other influences, particularly some newspaper companies, which campaigned in every conceivable way against this legislation — politically, from the point of view of industry, and so on. There were no holds barred. I would hate to disclose some of the efforts made to prevent the regulations being brought in and the legislation being enacted. I am delighted that the former Taoiseach, Deputy FitzGerald, stood up to those blandishments. The present Taoiseach has also stood up to the pressures and we are bringing in quite exceptional and historic legislation this evening.

I attended last week a conference on allied health professions in Copenhagen. The Irish legislation of 1978, the regulations of 1986 and this Bill, which was available to the conference, were regarded as an historic breakthrough within the European Community. It is now regarded as a model by the Commissioner in charge of public health. Arising out of that development there is to be organised the first European health conference on tobacco policy in Madrid next November. Ireland features there with a huge plus and I am delighted the Minister has nominated a number of delegates to attend.

The legislation is of enormous importance. It is a benchmark of which the Dáil can be justifiably proud. I congratulate the Minister and his colleagues in Government for the work they have done and I urge that we should not stop there. Licensed premises, places of work and third level colleges do not come within the framework of this Bill but they can be included in due course. The horror which has been visited on many families and on ourselves and our parties by this addiction can be mitigated and removed as a matter of public health in the years ahead.

It would be very remiss of me not to put on the record the very considerable economic and social responsibility displayed by the tobacco companies in their negotiations with the Minister and previously with me, notably P.J. Carroll and Company. The marketing director of that company is a man of outstanding economic and marketing expertise and he has striven to diversify the company's role. In tandem with this legislation we can try to ensure the maintenance of employment in other fields. The company has been singularly successful in that endeavour. I am pleased to put on record the co-operation I received from the managing director and the marketing director of that company.

I should like to be associated with the remarks made by Deputy Desmond. As one who has been a Member of this House for the same length of time as Deputy Desmond, I think it would be appropriate to include somebody with whom I have not always agreed. Dr. Noel Browne was one of the first Deputies to seek legislation in this area. I recollect that his was a lone voice when calling for warning notices on cigarettes packets. I attended debates many years ago when he was not in receipt of much support in that regard but eventually it came about.

The Members of this House have come a long way in their approach to this problem. We spend £1.3 billion on treating sick people and it is clear that much of that expenditure would not be necessary if we had been more enlightened in adopting preventive medicine at an earlier stage. This measure is very much in the area of prevention. All we are doing is giving the Minister power, and we must hope that he will avail of this power. It is unique that there is agreement across the board on the proposals in the Bill. This indicates a willingness on the part of Deputies to support tough measures in the interests of the better health of the nation. We hope to see the Minister bring forward other enlightened legislation in the area of preventive medicine where he consideres it necessary. Lung cancer is, unfortunately, very prevalent here and medical evidence supports the view that 83 per cent of the lung cancers in Ireland are caused by smoking. A person who smokes more than 25 cigarettes per day is more likely to die of bronchitis than a non-smoker and 50 times more likely to be admitted to hospital. Our hospital costs have contributed much to our financial difficulties. The economic benefit which could be achieved by a massive reduction in cigarette smoking is another motivation for promoting its reduction.

The Minister must enter immediately upon a vigorous campaign to encourage young people not to take up this habit and to discourage those who have already begun to smoke. Young girls make up an increasing percentage of smokers while the elderly and middle aged have been giving up smoking. Short campaigns are effective but not in the long term. The Minister's campaign must be sustained in a continuing effort to educate young people in regard to the dangers of smoking. We spend £40 million importing tobacco and we spend £400 million on tobacco products. Just think what we could do if that money were available for capital investment.

I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy. I have given a lot of latitude on this Final Stage of the Bill, but the speeches we are hearing are more appropriate to Second Stage. Speeches at this Stage should be rather short and confined to what is in the Bill, nothing more, I must ask, therefore, for brevity and remarks related to what is in the Bill.

When the Bill has passed through the Seanad I would appeal to the Minister to come forward with the regulations on a broad scale to make full use of the powers that this House is giving him tonight.

I will just make the briefest of remarks. I would like to join with other Deputies — and we rarely have an opportunity of doing this — in congratulating the Minister on the progressive legislation he has brought in tonight. With reference to the legislation itself, we are too often accused in Leinster House of leading from behind. This is an occasion where we have the opportunity of leading Irish society with legislation that is probably in advance of the average person's understanding or perception of the seriousness of the problem. To that extent it is important that it be backed up with continued consultation on health promotion and with the fullest use of the powers which the Minister is taking on board tonight. I would like the Minister to know that I share the views expressed on all sides of the House in relation to this Bill and support him in the application of the powers which the House is unanimously giving him tonight.

I do not intend to make a Second Stage speech; I did that some time ago. I want simply to add my congratulations to the Minister on bringing in this legislation because I am aware that it was not an easy piece of legislation to bring in. My colleague, Deputy Barry Desmond, was quite generous in his praise for a number of individuals and he singled out many individuals in the Department and the present Minister. However, one person his modesty did not allow him to include in his generous congratulations was Deputy Barry Desmond himself, a man who brought in a number of imaginative pieces of legislation in his four and a half years in the Department of Health, including the environmentally positive as well as the health positive measure of banning the advertising of tobacco products, advertising that seemed to festoon every corner shop in our nation. A tribute to the tremendous pioneering work and tremendous resilience of an excellent Minister for Health, Deputy Barry Desmond, should also be on the record of this House.

I would also like to congratulate the Minister on getting this legislation through the House. I would urge the Minister to get it through the Seanad and into law as soon as possible because a day lost is a life lost where this type of legislation is concerned. One frightening statistic I saw recently from one consultant in one of our major hospitals was that one-third of the patients in that hospital were in there because of cigarette related diseases. That brings home very forcefully the whole relevance of this legislation.

I would like at this stage to thank my colleague, the Minister of State, and Deputies Allen, Molloy, Howlin, Flaherty and Desmond for their constructive contributions to the debate here tonight. As Deputy Desmond pointed out, the Taoiseach was the first Minister to introduce legislation to control tobacco advertising ten years ago, and Deputy Desmond himself introduced regulations in 1986 and had a major input into the preparation of this legislation. When drawing up the regulations we want to ensure that public health will not be compromised and that public health considerations will predominate.

Question put and agreed to.