Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

There cannot be exceptions to the provisions on passive smoking. Strong lobby groups must not be allowed decide the nature of legislative proposals. If there are to be exemptions the law will not work. The law must be fair throughout and strong lobby groups should not be in a position to influence the Government to ensure their interests are not affected by legislation.

It would be wrong if the legislation only impacted on those selling cigarettes, that is, shopkeepers. Too many rules and regulations govern the conduct of business in this country. This legislation is concerned with the licensing and selling of cigarettes. Shopkeepers must have a responsibility in this regard but they should not become a soft touch with their businesses being adversely affected to the point of closure by, for example, being penalised because an under age person procured a cigarette from them. This has happened in the Western Health Board area where young children, acting on behalf of the health board, have procured cigarettes. Traders were caught and were badly affected. Many were elderly and had been running businesses for many years. The major multiples were avoided in favour of targeting small businesses. I hope this will not happen when this Bill is passed. If it does it will defeat the purpose of the legislation.

Non-smokers attending meetings often emerge with a strong odour of cigarettes on their clothes. It indicates that the health impact of cigarettes on non-smokers must be very severe. I favour banning cigarettes in pubs and night clubs. Earlier this week I attended a function in Leinster House where people were dancing while smoking. That must be stopped as it is dangerous, not only from a health point of view but also because it may cause injury to others.

Smokers must remember that a cigarette is a drug. Cigarette smoking must be tackled like any other drug. Not long ago people sold cigarette cartons at a reduced price on the streets of Dublin. The full rigour of the law must be brought to bear on them to ensure they cannot engage in such activities again. The courts should be empowered to deal with them in a like manner to drug dealers. Selling cigarettes to young people is similar to inducing them to smoke. They become addicted.

The Minister will be aware that millions of pounds every year are spent treating drug addiction and drug related illnesses. Many elderly people smoke a cigarette at night to enable them relax. It is wrong to price them out of the market. They should be educated to realise that what they are doing is wrong. Everything should be done to help and encourage them, including the use of medication. I welcome the provision enabling the Minister divert taxes raised from the sale of cigarettes to the medical card scheme.

Not enough is being done in schools. Every day 12 year olds take up smoking. Education policy should be directed at primary schools in the first instance. Doctors, nurses and cancer patients should be employed to show young school children how cigarette smoking can impact on their health, both when they are young and later in life. More money should be spent in this area.

Cigarette companies are like drinks companies and we are too soft on them. They get away with murder. Every year in this country thousands of people lose their lives because of the effects of smoking. Rather than penalise smokers with price increases the companies should be targeted. The Government knows well how to do that and it must be done.

I generally welcome the Bill. The primary aim of the Tobacco Control Agency, which is part of the overall health promotion strategy, is to improve the health care system and to encourage the concept of illness prevention rather than cure. This can only be viewed in a positive light. The agency is aimed at discouraging young people from starting to smoke. However, if the Bill is passed the agency will have to be charged with the task of enforcing other measures, some of which may be too penal and have adverse consequences.

Turning to the preventative health dimension of these measures, there can be no contesting the fact that all aspects of health care will remain central to this and the next Government. The Government badly needed a strategy catering for the basic health care needs of the population and not a strategy that was geared to camouflage, contain or cure existing ills. Encouraging people not to begin smoking is an initiative aimed at curtailing and reducing the likelihood of ill health. Unfortunately, however, I have seen at first hand in my constituency of North Tipperary the suffer ing people have endured because of the Government's refusal to address the serious problems that already existed in the health system. While I am relieved that, at long last, something constructive has been done, I find it shocking that the Government waited four and a half years to introduce its health package. We live in a democracy where the ongoing pleas of our citizens for help with their health problems were callously ignored by the Government. Now that a strategy has finally been put in place, we can only hope that our health system and the overall health of our people will begin to improve. Apart from the emergency measures announced recently, we need to think independently and imaginatively about our attitudes to preventative health care.

The new health strategy document has much to say about the inequality of access to care in the existing system. l wish to highlight a related issue which is not always heard or fully understood. I refer to the glaring inequality where poorer members of our society are the least healthy. A recent ESRI survey illustrated that the people who get the best treatment services are the ones who complain the most about the system. The report stated that those with incomes of £450 a week and who have the best access to services because they are privately insured patients are the ones who profess to be the most dissatisfied with public health services. The people who have to depend on the public health system – those earning less than £200 a week – expressed the least dissatisfaction.

There is a fundamental flaw in this analysis because those who are most in need are not able to express their worries and dissatisfaction to people in power. They are silenced by the dominance of the middle-class voice of those conducting the research and those who constitute the majority of respondents in the reports. That is a sad but true reflection of how a great deal of our research is compiled, utilised and translated back into a system that reproduces inequality.

While the life expectancy rate in Ireland has increased in recent years, evidence suggests that it is not increasing as fast as in other EU countries. The section entitled "Understanding Our Health" in the new health strategy document lists the categories in our society where the number of premature deaths is still disproportionately large. In Ireland, premature death is more likely for males than females and the mortality rate for men between the ages of 15 and 64 is two and a half times higher for unskilled workers than for those in professional employment. These findings, coupled with the points raised in the ESRI report, indicate that the problem is not only one of access to care, but rather a lack of information and education about health matters in general. Based on my experience of the system, that is the crux of the matter and it is a particular problem for less well-off members of our society. People who have less access to education are more likely to practice lifestyles that are damaging to their overall well-being and smoking is chief among these, accounting for over 7,000 deaths in Ireland each year.

More information is needed to discourage our young people from engaging in lifestyles that result in ill-health. To that end, they need access to more information on the dangers of smoking. Parents in the less well off sectors of our society cannot afford to buy glossy overpriced health magazines to get the information they need. They depend on the Government and the health care system to advise and guide them. To date, the Government has failed miserably in this regard. A first step in the right direction, which I welcome, is the establishment of the social, personal and health education programme. This is to be extended to all primary and secondary level schools by 2005. Health boards are to have more contact with schools, universities, workplaces and voluntary organisations dispensing information on smoking, alcohol abuse and exercise related issues.

I have reservations about some aspects of the Bill, particularly those which deal with in-store advertising and displays and those which affect moderate smokers in society. Banning displays completely will have adverse effects on another vulnerable group in our communities, local shopkeepers. The Bill proposes that a retailer selling tobacco products must do so from a closed container or dispenser which is not visible or accessible to the public. That, I believe, is going overboard. Shopkeepers will be required, under this Bill, to treat as contraband a product which is legal in this country and provides revenue to the Exchequer. A recent survey conducted in Ireland by a company whose product is devised to help people give up smoking produced results which state that tobacco displays are not a factor in relation to people deciding to smoke or purchase tobacco products. If this is true, removing displays will not eliminate the problem of projecting smoking as "cool" and attractive to our young people.

I fear this part of the Bill will have severe effects on small shopkeepers who are a vital part of local communities. There will be a major cost factor involved in removing the current display areas and these will then have to be refurbished at a further cost if the retailer is to install the type of dispenser proposed in the Bill. I have been approached by many shopkeepers who feel that their financial existence, which, in many cases, is on a week to week basis, is being further threatened by the abolition of tobacco displays. Up to now, a shopkeeper renovating his or her property received much needed financial assistance from the tobacco manufacturers in return for putting their products on display. If displays are abolished, this financial support will no longer be available to them.

In general, people do not pop down to the large supermarket for a packet of cigarettes; they go to their local small shop and, in the process, they usually pick up other items. They probably meet a neighbour and engage in conversation. These traditions are part and parcel of our culture and give a sense of community to people. Moreover, if local retailers can no longer display or sell a packet of cigarettes at a reasonable price, they will probably lose out on other sales that are vital to their survival in business. Clearly, this is of great concern to them. The ban on the retail sales of a pack of less than 20 cigarettes will inevitably reduce the display areas in shops.

Restricting and reducing the advertisement and display space will probably discourage some young people from smoking. However, abolishing displays completely will put in jeopardy many small shops which have already suffered considerably this year in the wake of the foot and mouth disease restrictions and the downturn in tourism revenue. Local retailers are an essential part of the fabric of our rural communities and I am concerned that small shopkeepers will be destroyed financially as a consequence of excessively restrictive measures in the Bill.

We should also bear in mind that large numbers of people smoke in moderation. Will these people feel outlawed and discriminated against by the more restrictive measures in the Bill? We have to accept that many people enjoy the occasional cigarette on social occasions and do not suffer ill-effects from their habit. I encourage the Government to promote, in every way possible, measures that provide the necessary information to those who need it most in an effort to encourage preventative health care practices. I also urge the Minister to consider deleting lines 17 to 21 on page 27 of the Bill and to give the small independent retailer a lifeline in these financially challenging times. The imposition of these restrictions could very well have the opposite effect to what the Minister intends and could increase the level of illegal trading of tobacco products on the black market.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001. I compliment the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, on the measures he and his colleagues are putting in place and on the priority he has placed on this issue. I attended the recent conference on the tobacco industry at which the question of whether to prosecute or otherwise was discussed. I welcome the fact the Minister raised the age at which it is legal to purchase cigarettes from 16 to 18 and I applaud the ban on advertising and sponsorship that was introduced in July 2000. I also welcome the fact that all patches, gums, sprays and tables will be made available, free of charge and on prescription, to medical card holders. I fought strongly for this through my work with the joint committee. I probably would have argued that this could have been extended to incorporate everyone, but I assume that anyone intent on pursuing these kinds of treatments can avail of the drug repayments scheme.

I am glad the Minister has provided £1 million this year to assist in the enforcement of the existing legislation and I welcome the introduction of the legislation before us. I wish those who will be involved with the office of tobacco control every success. I accept they are starting out on what will be a difficult road but I am sure they will have great success in their endeavours. I wish to place on record my appreciation of the work done by ASH Ireland and the other support agencies to bring us to this point where we are debating Second Stage of this Bill.

It was extremely important that the Minister stated last night that he regards the battle against tobacco as "one of the most important public health challenges facing us in the new millennium". The Minister is not merely uttering words, he has already put measures in place and taken action. As he is aware, the Joint Committee on Health and Children has also prioritised this topic and has spent the last number of years researching it. That is probably why I am more exercised about this subject than people outside might feel I should be. As Deputy Ring stated, children should be shown the effects smoking can have and the serious illnesses it can cause. People who have suffered such illnesses have appeared before the joint committee. Some of them, suffering from serious medical conditions, were brought in with oxygen tanks attached to their wheelchairs. One individual was upset by the fact that two of their four children smoke. I agree it is important to use people who have suffered serious illnesses as role models, but this alone will not provide an answer to the problem.

The joint committee travelled far and wide and invited people from afar to address us in order to widen our knowledge of tobacco and, more particularly, the influence of the tobacco industry on young people. I am not a smoker and I have never been overly keen to take up the habit. However, that is not to say that I do not respect a person's right to smoke, particularly when they respect my rights in return. This issue has a great deal to do with competing rights, namely, the right to smoke versus the right to a smoke-free environment. I will outline later the effect tobacco smoke can have on children and the fact that they can fall victim to sudden infant death syndrome and many diseases from being subjected to smoke. The House recently debated legislation on the right to life. It has been proven that the right to life of babies who are subjected to tobacco smoke in their homes is being interfered with. In my opinion that matter must be addressed and greater emphasis must be placed on it.

I am concerned about young people who are being tricked and cajoled into taking up smoking. As Members are aware, it takes approximately 20 young people to take up the habit each day just to replace the 7,000 or so people that smoking kills each year in Ireland. In other words, 20 people need to start smoking each day in order to maintain the current number of people who smoke. I do not know if that message is getting across. Do people really believe that, despite the agony and serious consequences alcohol can inflict, their children are better off if they are smoking rather than drinking? These individuals somehow excuse smoking as inconsequential, recreational or benign. When people are young, they do not believe they are going to die. We can see the effects of underage drinking every day. Consider, for example, the number of young people who drink, get into their cars and are then killed in accidents. However, it is not so easy to see the effects of smoking and many people who smoke do not know that their chances of dying from certain diseases are increased by 50% as a result of their habit.

I will comment later on the issue of underage drinking which is another of my hobby horses. I must say at this point, however, that it is vital that we continue to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking and this must extend to regulating the clever promotional activities in which the tobacco companies engage and which are aimed at young people. We must ensure that we put more supports and programmes in place to help people who wish to give up smoking. We need to accept that smoking is often not an isolated event and that there are people who do not wish to smoke but are caught, perhaps in a social context, in a position where they are injured through passive smoking. We also need to ensure that, to protect the young and non-smokers alike, we enforce rigorously existing legislation and, more particularly, the legislation before us. Many people complain that the country is being inundated with legislation, only a fraction of which is ever enforced. The latter will remain to be seen in respect of the Bill.

Why can we not dispel the feeling that smoking is not really that much of a problem when the statistics quoted to the members of the joint committee in respect of deaths associated with smoking are so stark? These statistics are not new, they began to emerge in the 1950s and 1960s. Why do those who know people who fight for each breath they take begin to smoke? Why do people who are informed by their doctors that their life span will be seriously reduced if they do not stop smoking continue to smoke? Why, when evidence shows that the leading cause of preventable illness in the country is smoking, are the incidences of smoking, particularly among young boys and even more so young girls, again on the increase?

I suppose it comes down to the clever way the industry goes about encouraging young vulnerable people to start smoking. A certain level of peer pressure is applied and a torrent of money is used to advertise the product in so many ways. We must recognise that smoking is highly addictive. I particularly enjoyed the performances of the industry representatives who appeared before the Joint Committee on Health and Children. Each of them, obviously in the interests of avoiding litigation, refused to say that smoking is addictive. When I asked what they thought con stituted addiction, they informed me that some people think they are addicted to chocolate, others to computers and others to golf. In that context, some people might believe they are addicted to smoking.

I am sorry that the same money invested in advertising by the tobacco industry is not put into developing patches and other devices to try to wean people off cigarettes. When I asked the industry representatives about the amount of money they spend researching the effects of their product on consumers or the research they carry out in respect of the number of people who try to give up each year, not too many promising facts were forthcoming.

It is important that smoking should be seen as addictive. If tobacco was not a highly addictive substance, we would not be here debating this Bill and perhaps those 98% of people who try and fail to give up smoking each year would not be looking to us, as legislators, to help them. It is a sobering thought that only 2% of those who try to give up smoking each year actually succeed.

I am not sure but I believe the Bill stipulates that the ingredients in cigarettes can be made public but that they do not have to be listed on packets. Perhaps the Minister could clarify the position. When smokers actually see listed on a packet the 600 additives included in each cigarette and discover that 4,000 chemicals are released in every lungful of smoke they inhale, will it have an impact? Will the ever increasing nicotine content – which is more addictive than either heroin or cocaine – ensure that those 80%, the vast majority of smokers, who say they would like to give up will forever be condemned to absorbing all the carcinogens such as ammonia, cadmium, benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, lead, mercury and so on? Will they be condemned to a life expectancy below the European average significantly related to the smoking factor?

We learned through our committee meetings that cigarettes are responsible for a large percentage of cancers, for a high fraction of coronary disease and stroke and for practically all lung disease. It is now believed that stroke is as preventable as heart disease, that people can pre-empt a stroke in the same way as they pre-empt a heart attack. We are faced with a pretty awful situation and the fact that all these diseases are preventable makes it scarier.

The world almost closed down during the recent BSE and foot and mouth crises. Nothing could move across the Border without being checked. Foot and mouth disease is a serious issue for farmers and their animals but it will not kill 7,000 people each year. We were able to pump all our resources into dealing with that crisis and rightly so in terms of agriculture. Try to imagine 7,000 people dying each year as a result of BSE or foot and mouth disease – it is quite scary.

The fact that nicotine is a stimulant that affects the brain, the heart and the nervous system and gives a short-term "fix" similar to other drugs should not undermine the long-term medical effects of smoking – the short-term gain is very much replaced by the long-term pain for most.

Many shopkeepers feel threatened by the Bill. They say one in three people who come into their shops do so principally to buy cigarettes but that 25% or more of their turnover arises from sales made to the same clientele. Of the 14 European countries, Irish consumers are the third highest spenders on tobacco. That is a huge percentage of retailers' business and I fully understand their concerns but if we are honest, what we are trying to do is reduce the number of young people who take up smoking and, through time, ultimately reduce substantially and-or eliminate the use of tobacco products. One can understand why retailers feel threatened by the Bill in the context of the bigger picture. Everything possible should be done to ensure communication between the Office of Tobacco Control and retailers in an effort to allay their fears. Ultimately, what we are trying to do is eliminate the sale of cigarettes. I was in America recently and I watched how they dealt with the issue of hiding the product and the banning of advertising. It seemed to work in a very practical way. This Bill will have serious financial implications for retailers. They feel health and safety issues will come into play in terms of where the product can be placed. Those issues need to be addressed with the retail industry.

We will be faced with the same problem as the alcohol industry when it comes to proving a person is over 18 years of age. Young people now have the option of purchasing an ID card which costs £5. I do not believe they should have to pay for it. We must ask whether we need mandatory ID cards. It is a big question that raises the whole big brother issue. I know shopkeepers who have asked people their age. These people can get very stroppy and become very offended when asked for ID, especially if they are 22 or 23 years old. Our culture has to change. People in America under 25 years of age do not go anywhere without some form of identification. We must look seriously at ways of proving a person is over 18 years of age. Perhaps we could seek the co-operation of those approaching that age. Should we introduce mandatory ID cards? I would like to hear the Minister's views on those points at the conclusion of Second Stage.

I have also been asked how many people will check retailers. Will it be health board officials and-or the Office of Tobacco Control, or both? How many people will be involved? The harder we are on the legitimate retailer the greater will be the likelihood of contraband. I welcome the recent seizure of cigarettes which has put a huge dent in somebody's operation. I would point out to retailers that a recent study indicated that only 8% of children who bought cigarettes had been asked for identification. We are trying to control the sale of cigarettes to young people and to discourage them from taking up smoking at a young age. I fully support the right of a person of 18 years to smoke. I hope retailers will work with the Government to ensure that choice is available to young people and that they are not sold cigarettes at eight, ten, 12 or 14 years of age.

We were shown many of the clever things which retailers are doing in America. They send out many subliminal messages in their advertisements – one could send away tokens from cigarettes and receive a free pair of flip-flops which, when one walked across the beach, left a camel imprint.

That does not happen here.

It happens in America. That is the type of messages they are sending out.

The tobacco industry is constantly trying to put a stronger nicotine content in their cigarettes. A study in New Zealand found that a packet of ten cigarettes contained more nicotine than a packet of 20 thus encouraging people to buy more of them. People buy low tar cigarettes thinking they are better off, but they are not. Other people think they are not at risk when smoking cigars but there is 20 times more ammonia and five to ten times more cadmium in cigars.

I have strong feelings about passive smoking and the difficulties it can cause for children. Passive smoking causes children to suffer from respiratory illnesses, asthma and ear problems. Smoking during pregnancy contributes to miscarriages, smaller babies, prenatal and cot deaths.

I disagree with Deputy Ring's comments regarding the price of cigarettes. My father smoked a pipe and enjoyed it very much. He once said that if tobacco prices went over £1 he would give up smoking the pipe. When the next budget was announced tobacco was increased to £1.01 and my father put the pipe away and never smoked it again. He was like a demon for about three months but he survived. He is one of the 2% of people who can succeed in giving up cigarettes, and price can play a part in this. People can choose to smoke but they cannot choose to give it up, which is sad. I do not wish to appear to be totally against smoking. What we need to get across is how serious are the repercussions of smoking so people can make a knowledgeable choice and not find themselves trapped into an addiction which they cannot escape.

I commend the Bill and I urge the Minister to work closely with the retail industry, whose members will probably be most affected by the legislation, to ensure that it is implemented as effectively as possible.

I wish to share my time with Deputies Tom Hayes and McGahon.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. The last speaker said it was probably draconian legislation and there are cer tainly elements that could cause concern. There is particular concern among retailers. A heavy emphasis is put on retailers but it should be remembered that retailers in country shops are probably put to the pin of their collar to survive economically. They sell cigarettes, but the Minister is now putting an onus on them to ask people their age.

It is easy for a Government to ban something and say cigarettes cannot be sold to people under 18 years of age. However, I defy the Minister to take a random group of eight people of various age groups and judge which of them is under and over 18 years of age. We are now asking the shopkeeper to make that decision. That puts the retailer in an unfortunate position. The concept of mandatory ID cards frightens people but one cannot do certain things without having some means of identification. The consumers and retailers will probably accept other aspects of the legislation, such as the impositions regarding registration and so forth.

The primary concern of this legislation is to stop young people smoking. Why do they start? It is because smoking is regarded as cool. In the 1940s and 1950s when smoking became extremely popular, the health factor was not considered. In the 1960s, when I was under 18 years of age, it was considered almost adventurous to smoke a cigarette. We did not enjoy them at first but after a while we did. We were young and there were no scares about health. Today there are such scares but young people still smoke because they regard it as cool.

In the Western Health Board area, a survey of more than 200 people discovered that in Roscommon the number of small retail shops that sold cigarettes to people under 18 years of age was as high as 97%. In many cases the people concerned were as young as 14 years of age. The survey was carried out by the environmental health section of the Western Health Board. We have to be concerned about young people smoking because statistics show that people who start smoking at 15 years of age will probably die more quickly of lung cancer than somebody who starts smoking in their 20s.

We are adopting the "Big Brother" approach of legislating for changes to advertising and promotions but how much of this problem comes down to parental responsibility? In many cases parents would be extremely concerned if their child decided to get a motorbike. They would probably take a dim view of it. However, to what degree is there parental responsibility in ensuring that their children under 18 years of age do not smoke? That is probably where much of this problem will be dealt with eventually.

It is frightening to see what smoking has done on a global scale. The cigarette companies are brilliant at advertising and marketing and particularly at conveying the subliminal messages mentioned by the last speaker. Look at the image projected by "Marlboro Man" to young people. In the UK alone, more than £100 million is spent on advertising cigarettes. Restrictions on such advertising were recently introduced there. I do not know what is spent on advertising in this country—

When England imposed restrictions on advertising, it set a target of reducing smoking by 2.5%. We have set the ambitious target of reducing smoking from 31% to 20%. Targets must be set but how was the 11% arrived at?

Previous speakers have highlighted the illnesses caused by smoking. The World Health Organisation report issued on 11 December estimated that 1.2 billion adults smoke, putting up to 700 million children at risk. Other speakers referred to the effects of passive smoking. In that regard, everybody makes a choice about what pubs they will patronise. Some pubs have good air conditioning and extraction systems to remove smoke. There is concern about passive smoking and there have been changes in the law regarding smoking areas in restaurants. Now there are attempts to impose non-smoking areas in pubs. I do not know how we can tackle this problem. Eventually, it will probably come down to pubs having to acquire good air conditioning systems if they want to attract their target clientele.

The restrictions being introduced by the Minister appear to be laudable but I wonder how practical they will be. There is concern among retailers for whom selling cigarettes is a prominent part of their business. They are prepared to register their premises but the Minister is putting them in an extremely difficult position by expecting them to make judgments about age. We are great for passing legislation. It is easy to think about what restrictions we will introduce to deal with various matters but sometimes we do not empathise sufficiently with the members of the public who have to implement the legislation. If the Minister wishes to ensure the ban will be effective and that a person under 18 years of age cannot buy cigarettes in a small shop in rural Ireland, he will have to introduce some type of identification card rather than put pressure on the person behind the counter to ask a 21 or 22 year old whether they are over 18 years of age. The Minister must do that to achieve his objective.

Perhaps the objective of an 11% reduction in smoking is not sustainable. Where did the 11% figure originate if, on the basis of banning advertising, the UK expects to secure a reduction of only 2.5%? Was the figure plucked from the air as attainable?

I am curious about the discussions the Minister might have had about RTE. RTE has been constrained by the Government with regard to finance. A large element of funding for Formula One racing is generated by advertising but if the Minister wants RTE to retain Formula One racing he will have to black out the cigarette advertising on hoardings and the like. How successful has the Minister been in that regard?

My final observation relates to the decision not to extend the availability of medical cards to deserving people. People who smoke tend to be from the socio-economic category that does not qualify for medical cards. They just miss out on qualification. The Minister, despite trying to improve the health of the nation, did not include the incentive of providing extra medical cards. It would be an important component in this campaign. I have met people who have four children with asthma but who cannot get a medical card because they are over the income limit. Their spouse might work an extra day each week and they are penalised by not qualifying for a medical card. I also see other decisions in relation to the allocation of medical cards which I deplore.

I wish to share time with Deputy McGahon and thank Deputy Finucane for allowing me share time with him. The figures prove that almost 7,000 people die from smoking related illness each year. Some 31% of the population smokes and between 35% and 40% of younger people is smoking before they reach the age of 18. That is an alarming figure and the kernel of the problem. The number of young people smoking is the real worry, particularly for parents. I smoked as a young person, at a time when it was trendy to do so, and my friends were smokers. Giving up was one of the hardest things that I have done. Although I have been off cigarettes for 15 years, I still occasionally yearn for a cigarette. It is clear that smoking causes serious addiction.

Smoking causes over 90% of lung cancers and chronic bronchitis. The incidence of smoking is most common among young men between the ages of 25 and 30, particularly in the lower socio-economic groups. The heaviest smoking rate is found among married people, particularly those between the ages of 35 and 49. The percentage of deaths caused by lung cancer in Ireland has risen from 9.7% in 1970 to 21% in 2000. That is a startling figure and one we must investigate. Some 30% of boys between the ages of 15 and 17 smoke. Some 80% of all smokers become addicted between the ages of 14 and 16, highlighting the need to combat under-age smoking. These smokers will have a 50% chance of dying from a tobacco related illness. Tobacco is one of the greatest causes of preventable death. There are 1.1 billion smokers worldwide. By 2025, it is estimated that figure will rise to 1.6 billion. One half of all patients admitted to St. James's Hospital in Dublin have smoking related illnesses. The cost of running such hospitals is huge.

We address an essential piece of legislation here tonight. However, the way we go about implementing the legislation is another worry. Independent grocers and retailers are extremely concerned with the legislation, seeing it as draconian. These businesses have been under huge pressure and this legislation makes it more diffi cult for them to operate. I met with representatives of retailers just last week and they cited several main areas of concern. One of these relates to the storage of tobacco products on their premises. They wanted me to emphasise that the legislation is inoperable in this area. Cigarettes would have to be hidden away in shops. There cannot even be a mark to distinguish different brands. Nothing can be displayed in the shop. Retailers have said it is impossible to run a small business or shop, where staff might change or young family members help out, in this way. This proposal is unworkable and must be addressed. Retailers have enough trouble running their businesses at this time. Many smaller businesses are under pressure from big supermarkets and this legislation is driving another nail in their coffin. I urge the Minister to look at this aspect of the Bill.

We should encourage people, particularly younger people, not to smoke. It is hard to stop people smoking if they wish to and indeed people cannot be forced to stop. The health risks are clear but this Bill should also take account of independent retailers.

That I come from Dundalk might lead people to believe that in some way I would oppose this particular legislation. I do not because the evidence is stark. My difficulty concerns the continued reluctance by all parties in this House to address the major problem that affects children in this country, namely, the problem of drink. I charge the House with gross hypocrisy on the serious issue of drink. There is huge duplicity involved. We have expressly forbidden television and newspaper advertising for cigarettes. Yet every ten minutes the youth of Ireland are offered a variation on the theme of "Are you going for a Harp?" or "The goodness of Guinness." We are turning a blind eye to the misery that drink produces. There is not a family in the country that has not felt the ravages of drink. Deputy Keaveney spoke about the blandishments of clever cigarette advertising. She was talking about the United States because there is no cigarette advertising here. All the clever advertising comes from the vintners and the drinks distributors who have cynically targeted youth. The Minister of State, as a medical practitioner, must be aware of this. If he is not, then his medical colleague in Mayo, Dr. Michael Loftus, is fully aware of the danger that drink wreaks on young people.

Some of the proposals in this Bill are laudable but are unenforceable. What kid who wants to buy a packet of cigarettes will not get a bigger kid to buy them for him? Children will not be denied access to cigarettes. I shed no tears for the small shopkeepers who sell cigarettes. I was one myself, at one time. Snipe could not be fed on the 10% profit made from cigarettes – such a profit is not viable.

It is 9% now.

That argument does not stand up. However, I charge the House with hypocrisy in refusing to deal with the major problem and the major drug in this country, namely, alcohol. The blandishments of the breweries and of the people who make a very handsome living out of the tragedy that many families suffer, should be restricted.

Having said that, I underline that more people are smoking today than ever before. Recently in Dundalk, 80 million cigarettes – the tip of the iceberg – were, thankfully, seized by customs. Many people, particularly in Border areas, are millionaires because of the level of trade and the profits that accrue from smuggling cigarettes. It is folly to believe that if one closes the door on legitimate production of cigarettes, people will turn away from them. They will not because of the rewards and profits that come from smuggling cigarettes internationally.

Not for the first time I have spoken of the dangers of alcohol and the hypocrisy in this House in refusing to address the problems that awful drug brings to people. I commend the Minister and agree with what he is doing in relation to cigarette smoking, but I wish he would show the same alacrity in dealing with the problem we in this House refuse to recognise.

I commend the Minister and his officials for bringing this comprehensive measure before the House. There has been a number of delays in getting the Bill here giving rise to concern in some quarters that it may not reach the Statute Book in the lifetime of this Government but I am happy to see it here today. I am even happier that the Minister intends to have All Stages passed and the Bill enacted by Easter 2002.

This is an important Bill in an important area of public health and it is intended to be one of the flagships in the Minister's legislative programme. The actions proposed under the Bill, including putting the existing Office of Tobacco Control on a proper statutory footing with statutory powers of enforcement, are an important component of the Government's long-term health strategy recently announced and generally warmly welcomed.

Smoking kills 7,000 Irish people each year. Tobacco is an addictive poison and any measures to reduce the number of victims, willing or unwilling, must be positive. I would like to make a number of general remarks and will then comment on some specific aspects of the Bill with a view to outlining how its effectiveness might be improved. Incidentally, I question whether the Office of Tobacco Control, which was so recently established, which is doing a very effective job and which secured a considerable measure of public recognition under that name, needs a change of title as proposed in the Bill. The Office of Tobacco Control, as it is known, is a regulator. Its primary purpose is to enforce the law relating to the sale and use of tobacco products. It is not there to educate the public or assist or enlighten it; it is there as an enforcer. If it is to be an effective enforcer, it must have teeth.

Taxation of tobacco products at a much higher rate and their removal from the consumer price index are two issues to which the Government will have to return despite the reluctance of the ICTU – one of the social partners – to address these issues. Conclusive research undertaken for the Office of Tobacco Control by MRBI shows that tax increases, significantly higher than the rate of inflation, are a disincentive and deterrent to smokers and would be smokers. Furthermore, the research shows strong public support, even among smokers, for penal taxation on tobacco. This public support cannot, and should not, be ignored.

Much detailed work will be done on Committee Stage but I would like to see the final version of the Bill setting out a clear timeframe for the implementation of its various sections. An equally clear timeframe for the formulation and implementation of the necessary regulations arising from the Bill's provisions is also important. The reason these timeframes are important is to ensure there is no slippage in the implementation of these vital public health measures due to pressure from vested interests connected with the trade in tobacco production in one way or another.

Some of the material sent to Deputies is indicative of the resistance the Minister's proposals are generating in the main. They are neither coherent nor compelling but I am sure there will be more to come. As ASH Ireland, the anti-smoking organisation, points out, smoking kills six times more people in Ireland each year than road accidents, work accidents, drugs, murder, suicide and AIDS combined. These are all matters of serious public concern, and rightly so, but so is smoking. I counsel the Minister not to be deflected from his chosen course.

Discretionary compliance with statutory or other measures designed to modify, alter or permanently change public behaviour has repeatedly been proved to be ineffective in effecting major and lasting change. Regrettably, a measure of compulsion is often required to make change stick. Littering and illegal parking are cases in point. Action in relation to tobacco production, distribution, sale and use is no different – some would argue that it is more difficult. The Bill would be considerably improved if the health boards and the tobacco control agency were compelled to enforce the legislation. It should not be discretionary on their parts, as proposed in section 6. Additionally in this respect, section (10)(1)(h) should be amended to provide that health boards should be obliged to comply with all reasonable directions of the agency.

Section 37 provides for the establishment by the agency of a register of retail sellers of tobacco products. Some of the points I made about enforcement are also relevant here. If it is left to the discretion of the individual retailer to register with the agency, there will, undoubtedly, be difficulties of compliance and enforcement. Human nature, not to mention other matters, being what it is could require an expensive field force and considerable time to ensure all outlets are properly licensed. We do not need another expensive State compliance and collection operation for registration of licences.

We should learn from the example of the TV licence and its associated problems. In terms of administrative efficiency, section 37 should be amended to provide compulsory disclosure of relevant information to facilitate compliance. What is needed is a requirement on manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, cash-and-carry outlets and other distributors of tobacco products to furnish to the agency all relevant information, distribution lists, customers, delivery locations etc. for the express purpose of establishing and maintaining the retailers' register. This is not an enormous obligation and if objections are to be raised on the grounds that the information is commercially confidential, providers can be assured that the information would be held and used only by the agency for the maintenance of the register.

On the pollute and pay principle, there is no reason why the State should be put to unnecessary expense when there is a cheap and efficient administrative solution readily available. There is a need for greater clarity in the definition of the term "to advertise". It is necessary to provide a greater degree of certainty as to what precisely the offence is, who exactly is guilty of it and when it occurs. What precisely is "continuing offence"? Does the term "to advertise" mean to commission, publish, broadcast or display advertisements, or does it mean all of these?

Although it is a difficult and much disputed matter, we also need greater clarity in respect of indirect advertising, such as product placement, Formula 1 racing and the disputed area of brand stretching, which tobacco companies describe and defend as simple product diversification away from tobacco. The use of the Internet to conduct research on young people who will be future smokers needs to be considered.

All forms of financial support by the industry of educational, sporting and cultural bodies and events, especially bodies providing services to children and young adults, should be banned without exception. However, it is not that simple given the means used by the tobacco industry to gain access to and exert influence on leaders and key decision makers. It is particularly used to influence policy in our universities and business schools.

Smoking in all enclosed public places should be banned completely. Exceptions should be dealt with by way of ministerial regulation. The proposal in the Bill appears to be inadequate and discriminates against people who are not employed in the various employments specified in section 46. The Statute of Limitation should be amended to allow injured parties sue after a particular time period. It should also be made an offence for persons under 18 to sell tobacco products. If this is not criminalised as it is for adults, minors will be used extensively by criminals, smugglers and other peddlers of stolen products. More importantly, it would render it more difficult for under-age smokers to secure illegal purchases through legitimate outlets from sales assistants in their own age group. The onus to ensure tobacco is not sold to minors should be at least as strong as that relating to the sale of alcohol to minors.

The Minister should retain the right to publish the composition of tobacco products without recourse to the High Court. He has an important responsibility for public health education, quite separate from his functions as regulator. He must be allowed to educate people about the dangers of tobacco in an unfettered manner. Anyone familiar with the revelations in the report Towards a Tobacco-Free Society regarding components of tobacco products will be truly horrified.

I will remind the House of some aspects of the Minister's speech, particularly relating to under-age smoking. He expressed his concern about the increasing level of smoking among children and access by under-age persons to cigarettes. This is a serious problem. In the past, there were shops in every town, particularly those near where young people congregated outside schools and so forth, in which some reckless shopkeepers were selling cigarettes singly. That was a serious problem in some of our towns, including my own town, and something of which we should not be proud – it was a disgrace. That was not today or yesterday, but 20 or 30 years ago.

The Minister also spoke of the risk to children. They are particularly at risk from passive smoking. As they grow, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke significantly reduces their lung capacity. I agree with my friend from County Louth that smoking is one problem and alcohol another, but both seem to go together. It is very popular for young people in pubs to have a half pint or pint and a cigarette at the same time. It is sad that they cannot enter a public house and take a drink without having to smoke continually.

I was at a 21st birthday party last week. A lady asked me if the price of cigarettes would go up in the budget. I said that I hoped they would and asked the lady what she would do. She said "I am nearly off them". The next day and the day after, because I was in the company of smokers for an hour or two, the smell of smoke from my clothes was unreal.

I am sharing time with Deputy John Browne(Carlow-Kilkenny) and Deputy Ulick Burke. I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Public Health (Tobacco) Bill, 2001.

I wish to raise manpower issues in public health medicine. It is the only Irish medical speciality in which senior trained practitioners are appointed at a specialist rather than a consultant grade. This reflects the relatively low priority accorded to population health and preventative medicine in the health system. Public health physicians are unique in the Irish health system. Foregoing rights to private practice, they go through the rigorous training physicians in other disciplines go through, yet they are appointed at specialist level and do not have opportunities to progress to consultant grade. The public health specialist grade should be retained as it provides a useful model for other specialist areas, but the Minister should look at the public health area where preventative medicine is very important. More public health consultants would strengthen the safeguards needed in that connection.

I am anxious to speak not just as a legislator and parent but as a retailer and I hope I can suggest some improvements to help the Bill achieve its public policy objectives. To a large extent retailers will form the front line in enforcing the legislation and it is important that they are able to implement those measures efficiently and effectively. There has been an acceptance by retailers of the need to address the public health issues concerned with tobacco and smoking. While tobacco products account for a significant share of many retailers' businesses, there is acceptance that it is neither possible nor desirable to repel the international trends in favour of the control of tobacco and the reduction of tobacco consumption. There is also recognition of the trend in political and public opinion regarding tobacco products and public health. It is important to look at the position of retailers under this legislation. It cannot be said that tobacco companies play any beneficial role in community life but the same cannot be said of shops, which occupy a significant role in the life of communities around the country. Many of them will be adversely affected by this Bill as the decline in tobacco sales will affect their turnover and it is important the new measures do not place any additional financial burdens on those shops in the context of such pressures. Tobacco companies must cover the increased costs incurred by retailers.

The legislation contains express provisions dealing with retail of tobacco products. It also rightly provides for probing of tobacco companies, as it addresses issues beyond the sale of tobacco. The Bill gives the new agency the power to demand information from the tobacco companies on the ingredients of cigarettes and health records, which will rightly strike at the heart of their business. Tobacco companies have been a little less than fulsome in recognising their responsibilities to consumers when it comes to the impact of their products on public health. They have treated consumers outrageously while playing cat and mouse with various investigations which were initiated to study the addictive elements in their products. Tobacco suppliers have refused to attend public hearings in the Oireachtas, which is outrageous. The tobacco companies have been condemned for their mar keting practices, which are aimed at attracting new young smokers. It is disturbing that as countries in the West introduce stricter controls on tobacco, these companies are moving their activities to countries where public health debate is not as advanced and controls are lax. I hope the Minister deals with tobacco companies, as this Bill fails in that respect.

Retailers will play an important role in implementing these measures and from my experience as a retailer I have queries which I hope the Minister will address. How will registration work and what will it cost? Retailers need this important information. Will the authorities step up enforcement of the law against traders selling cigarettes on the black market? The recent success in Dundalk is welcome but we need a positive and prolonged State initiative in this regard.

Regarding the provision of products in a closed display which is not accessible or visible to anyone other than the retailer or staff, surely the main priority is to ensure that the products in the unit are not visible to the public. There are very few places in a shop where a display unit can be located and made invisible to consumers. Placing products under the counter is not practical and will raise health and safety concerns as well as security issues. The Minister must examine this matter. If the objective is to remove products from display, it should be achieved without putting any burden on retailers. The cost of removing shelving and products from sale following the enactment of the Bill will be considerable for retailers but in most cases the tobacco companies have paid for these units to be installed in shops. If they were happy to put them into shops they should be equally prepared to pay for their removal. Provision for this should be made in the Bill.

I seek some specific amendments on Committee Stage. Registration is covered in section 37 and that cost should be borne by the tobacco company and not the retailer, while the period of registration should be for five years or longer. Regarding section 43 on display, the legislation should permit the construction of secure units which do not display the products but which may be visible to the public. Such units should be permitted to be masked with advertisement for any products excluding tobacco products. The essential point is that no tobacco products or marketing should be evident to the public.

The cost of removing and making good any existing display cabinets should be borne by those who paid for their installation in the first place – the cigarette companies. The cost of constructing the new cabinets might likewise be borne by the manufacturer of the products. Retailers selling tobacco products should be allowed to sell nicotine replacement products and to advertise such products. Regarding section 43, there should not be any distinction between the sale of products by vending machines and those in shops, as retailers must not be placed at a disadvantagevis-à-vis publicans or clubs. The restrictions which apply to retailers should also apply to all self-service sale products. Sections 37 and 46 refer to prosecution and there could be stronger penalties for the sale of cigarettes from unlicensed outlets or by individuals and for the seizure of contraband. Individuals should be precluded from selling cigarettes other than from premises; they should be prevented from selling cigarettes on the black market. A bona fide defence for retailers should also be strengthened when false identification is presented.

This is an important Bill and I commend the Minister. I agree with the public policy objectives the Minister has identified as being central to the legislation and I support his zeal to curb under age smoking. It would take very little for the Minister to make this a perfect Bill and I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Hanafin, will take account of my genuine concerns about the impact of the Bill on the retail trade. I know retailers are not the Minister's primary target but their responsibilities when it comes to the sale of tobacco must be respected. The Minister should accept that many of the suggested measures can be achieved without necessarily imposing additional costs or burdens on local shops. We are now looking at a new dimension in selling cigarettes and business people will have to accept that. I look forward to the Minister's response.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): Having been a non-smoker all my life, I welcome this Bill. After I had a heart bypass, my cardiologist expressed happiness with the fact that smoking would not impede my recovery.

It is important that we understand and accept the health dangers of smoking. Some of the figures in the Minister's speech were frightening, for example, the statistic that smoking related illnesses lead to 500,000 deaths each year in the European Union, 7,000 of which are in Ireland. Illnesses caused by smoking include lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, emphysema and bronchitis. I do not know why it is so difficult to transmit to young people that cigarettes are a serious danger, but it is amazing that so many of them smoke. I do not mean to be sexist, but as I walk from my hotel to this House each morning, I am staggered by the number of young women, most about 20 years of age, who smoke while walking by. Perhaps I do not understand because I do not smoke, but it is strange that so many people need to have a cigarette early in the morning. There is something seriously wrong.

Deputies have referred to advertising and sponsorship, but I feel that we should trust people to make their own decisions. People are entitled to smoke if they want as we live in a democracy, but they are not entitled to blow smoke at my face and into my lungs. We cannot ban smoking entirely, however. Many surgeons will not deal with smokers as they do not wish to treat those who will not help themselves. As many of my friends are heavy smokers, I can sympathise with those who wish to give up the habit, but cannot do so. It is an addiction that is difficult to overcome, even if one is aware of the dangers and of the fact that a frighteningly high percentage of smokers will die from the habit.

We are very fussy about many aspects of planning and I think we should extend this diligence to making it compulsory to have air extractors in buildings where people gather in large numbers. It has been pointed out to me that they cost too much, but I think it is outrageous that one should be enveloped in a cloud of smoke, unable to see. Medical practitioners have told me that air extractors cannot guarantee proper health and safety standards, but it would be better if smoke was dissipated to prevent it from entering our lungs. It is a burden for non-smokers to be in a smoky environment. I find, as I get older, that my tolerance for smoke is decreasing. There was a time when I would not have cared if people smoked in my presence, but now I am inclined to ask them to wait until I am no longer in their company. It is difficult not to be agitated when someone is enjoying a cigar and blowing the smoke out strongly.

While I welcome any Bill that tries to reduce smoking, I have certain worries, especially having met shopkeepers who sell cigarettes. I am delighted to be able to defend good businessmen like my colleague, Deputy Perry. It is not right that they are almost criminalised for selling cigarettes. To have to hide tobacco products from view, perhaps under the counter, is a great inconvenience for those who are not supple enough to bend their backs constantly. I do not know if it is right that shopkeepers should have to hide cigarettes in cupboards, as I am not sure if the slogan "out of sight, out of mind" applies to cigarettes. It is difficult for shopkeepers to have to hide their products.

We should recognise that crimes are committed by those who break the law. It is those who buy cigarettes under age that we should make suffer, not those who sell the product. I made a similar point in this House – that we should ensure that those deceiving publicans are held responsible – during a discussion on under-age drinking. Not even Solomon himself could confidently tell a 17 year old from an 18 year old. I know from coaching football teams that young men who are physically big can look far older than they are. I remember seeing a 16 year old drinking in our clubhouse one evening. I was sure of his age as I had taught him some years previously, but the bartender was flabbergasted when I pointed out his error. The 16 year old was so big that he could have played for the Irish rugby team. The onus should be on those breaking the law, not on those behind the counter who may find it difficult to tell how old a customer is.

If we are to insist on criminalising publicans, we should have a stringent identity card system. The argument is often made that it is easy to print false identity cards, but at least it gives shop keepers something to go by. We cannot blame a shopkeeper if one of his assistants sells cigarettes to an under-age acquaintance while he is out of the shop. No member of my family is involved in the grocery trade, so I am entirely impartial on this matter, but we cannot expect shopkeepers to judge a customer's age when Solomon himself could not do so. I suggest that those buying cigarettes or alcohol should be taught that responsibility comes as they get older. I would not jail them, but it is important that they be made carry the can.

It is hard to compete with the fact that one-third of under 18s smoke. It is difficult to tell young people not to smoke, but we need to highlight the health implications of smoking. It may be too late to argue against smoking when people have become addicted as they will have to learn the hard way that cigarettes damage health. It is only when one meets surgeons and cardiologists and hears about the need to ban cigarettes that one realises that many innocent people suffer as a result of an addiction to smoking. Some people are simply unable to stop smoking, possibly due to genetic factors. I do not know what the cure for this is, but I would like to see less smoking. A certain glamour seems to be attached to smoking, flicking the ash and looking sophisticated. There is a certain amount of truth in the old joke that God would have given us chimneys if he had intended us to smoke as it is hard to understand how lungs benefit from the inhalation of smoke.

I question the seriousness of this Bill because before the budget we had been led to believe that packets of cigarettes would cost an extra 1. Psychology is quite important before a budget, but the great psychological build-up this year resulted in a total fiasco on budget day. We will have to increase the price of cigarettes if we are to be serious about stopping young people from taking up the habit.

I welcome this important Bill. The House has passed much legislation regarding the economy and other aspects of society. However, this legislation is important. I agree with Deputies Perry and Browne who suggested that we should not be afraid to amend the Bill in whatever way is necessary. Once passed by the House, the legislation will have to be comprehensive to we ensure that we deal with this problem as efficiently as possible, that the legislation can be policed and that we can encourage people not to smoke.

I wish to declare an interest in this issue as my father worked for the Irish Heart Foundation. Part of his job was to visit schools and organisations to show a reel of film which explained to the young and the old the effects of cigarette smoking. I assisted him in giving out leaflets which informed people of the damage smoking causes to one's health. At that stage, the Irish Heart Foundation was doing great work in this area and took a positive approach to the manner in which it told people that smoking was bad for their health. That was not a popular message at that time and not many people tried to explain the downside of smoking.

Few statistics were available at that time. There was a general feeling that smoking was bad for one's health and a film was available which could be viewed in a public place or in a school. The Irish Heart Foundation carried out this work which, although it did not make a significant impact, conveyed the basic message that cigarette smoking was bad for one's health.

The contents of the film portrayed in stark terms the effects of smoking on the lungs. If one wished to be convinced not to smoke, this was the film to watch. I commend the Irish Heart Foundation for its work in this area, for the manner in which it approached this problem, for collecting money at church gates and doing the donkey work which ensured that the information was at least placed in the public arena and supported by broad sketchy statistics. The foundation got the message across in basic terms. This film brought home to me that education is the way out for those who wish to give up smoking, be they under-age or addicted smokers. One must provide people with the information and assist them after they have been educated about the issues involved.

I used to smoke, but have not done so for the past 20 years. However, like everything else, one smokes in a phase. One takes it and one leaves it. One is touched by the information one receives on the issue and decides whether to stop smoking. However, some people become addicted to smoking in the course of this process and will try everything to give up cigarettes. They will try to give them up for Lent, they will use patches or other methods advertised in newspapers. These people are convinced of the argument that they should give up smoking cigarettes, yet they cannot do so. Education must be linked to some method of giving up smoking and Government finance should be made available to fund such a method. We must keep pressurising people to kick the habit and understand what they are doing to themselves.

Part of this process is to educate people as to the nature of smoking related illnesses and how one can be hospitalised as a result. Many illnesses are identified as smoking related, such as heart bypasses of which Deputy Browne has personal experience. There is a way out of this problem. Smoking impacts on the health service. Therefore, money spent in a positive way by informing people, getting them off cigarettes and encouraging them to adopt a more active lifestyle without smoking would benefit the economy. We should invest in educating and informing people of how they can give up smoking. We should show them the impact of smoking on themselves, on their family members and on those with whom they sit in a pub or in a social context. We will make an impact on this issue if we consistently educate people and fund a way out for them.

Reducing the number of smokers will impact on the health service as it will not be clogged up by people suffering from smoking related illnesses. It has been pointed out that 500,000 EU citizens die every year from illnesses directly related to smoking. What impact is this statistic having? It is known that 7,000 of those who die each year are Irish citizens. How many times does one have to tell people that they will die as a result of this habit, yet the message does not sink in or they cannot stop smoking?

We may be able to take a lead from the drink-driving advertising campaign on television which is having a major impact on people's psyche and making it clear that drinking and driving is not on. Similarly, smoking is not on. Perhaps we should go down the route of delivering a stark message, as was the case in the Irish Heart Foundation's film. We should give people more than just the figures which can go over their heads. We should show them something visual which will impact on them and remain with them and convince them to give up smoking in their own interest and in the interest of their families, friends and those with whom they socialise. The Government must adopt this approach. Passing this legislation will not be sufficient on its own.

All Members received the revealing and informative statistics from the tobacco-free society group. However, we must inform those outside this House. The statistics indicate that, despite the advertising and other efforts of successive Governments, the use of tobacco products has increased substantially in a ten year period. The message is not having the desired impact on the public.

The failure to make an impact in discouraging smoking must be measured against the impact of cigarette advertising. The highly profitable tobacco industry is dominated by a small number of people. Some of the subsidiaries of world-wide companies are based in Ireland. I will not mention their names, but they contribute to encouraging young people to smoke and to encouraging people who already smoke to continue doing so. Wherever they are allowed to advertise, they present smoking as being sexy and cool. These advertisement usually feature young people, particularly women, to get the message across. This issue must be tackled.

The only means a government, country or population has of tackling this method of advertising is to hit it at source and prevent it. One will not win the battle in terms of the advertising, as the money is on the side of the companies which are making huge profits. We have limited funds at our disposal, therefore, legislation which can be enforced is the only other tool we have to stop people smoking, or to encourage them not to smoke. If this legislation is well thought out on Committee Stage it will tell the tobacco companies they are not allowed to continue to advertise and promote their products in the way they have been doing. We can tell the tobacco companies to stop advertising but to contribute to informing and educating people as to how bad cigarette smoking is. Putting a small notice on the side of a packet of ten or 20 cigarettes is not sufficient. A smoker simply opens the packet and takes his next cigarette. Tobacco companies must be made to contribute to the education of the general public and to the coffers of the State so that the education process can be paid for and people persuaded to stop smoking.

A number of cases have been taken against cigarette companies in the United States. We should approach the problem from the other side and insist that tobacco companies contribute to what the Government is trying to achieve. If we start this process we might have a reluctant partner in the tobacco companies but we will be able to begin to educate the public as to the dangers of cigarette smoking.

I was once a member of RGDATA and, like Deputy Perry, I sold cigarettes. Big cigarette companies come into small shops and make it possible for the shopkeeper to revamp his premises. They present the retailer with counter displays and with attractive magazine display units. They invest, not in the retailer but in their products. The tobacco distributor will then own all the shelving and display material in the shop and will ensure his product is seen first by the customer when he comes in the door. Regardless of how many brands are displayed on the shelf, the distributor's product will stand out among the rest. If tobacco distributors are prepared to make that kind of investment, they must be forced to make an investment in the health of the country by ensuring that people know the damage cigarettes can do to their health.

This legislation should reflect our pursuit of the tobacco companies and the fact that tobacco smoking is bad for us but it should not criminalise retailers for having cigarettes on their shelves. More than 31% of shoppers come into small shops to buy cigarettes. They may then buy a newspaper or some grocery items. A case has been made for identification cards as a means of combating under-age drinking. Identification cards are essential. It is extremely difficult to tell if someone is under 18 years of age. A shopkeeper or publican will almost always overstate a young person's age. This is happening in public houses and off-licences throughout the country. We are now adding another layer of bureaucracy to be administered by shopkeepers. Identification cards are essential because it is impossible for a small shopkeeper to tell a young person's age. If the legislation is to be successful everyone who buys cigarettes must be required to show ID. The shopkeeper can then refuse to sell that person cigarettes. It is not acceptable to put the onus on the publican or shopkeeper. They can do the job but they cannot complete it and it is not fair to place this responsibility on their shoulders.

An agency is to be established to monitor these regulations. We seem to be creating layer upon layer of bureaucracy. There are several Govern ment agencies which could easily take on this responsibility. If a small shopkeeper sells a sandwich over the counter he will have a health inspector on his doorstep to ensure that the regulations are observed. If he has a wine licence he will be visited by some other inspector. He will almost certainly be visited by a third and fourth inspector for some other purpose. The Bill will add another inspector to this list. I am in favour of minimising bureaucracy and of making life easier for the shopkeeper.

Further costs must not be added to those the shopkeeper already bears. Whatever cost is associated with implementing this Bill should be borne by the tobacco companies and not by the small grocer. Most small shops are run by family units who are pushed to the pin of their collars to meet their financial obligations and cannot afford further costs. I ask that any costs involved in the implementation of the Bill should be borne by the tobacco companies and not by retailers.

Tobacco products should not be immediately visible when a customer goes into a shop or public house. The customer must go into the premises with the intention of puchasing the product and not be influenced to purchase by what he sees when he goes in. The product must be kept out of sight, although not hidden under the counter. This issue is outlined in the submission made by the Irish Retail Newsagents Association. The product should be put to one side but accessible to the staff. We must consider the logistics of placing cigarettes so that they are not immediately visible and the customer must ask for them. There are many tobacco products and it is not practical to keep them hidden under the counter. That would be an Irish solution to an Irish problem and would not be acceptable.

Vending machines should also be placed out of sight but they should not be hidden. Let us not push tobacco onto the black market to be peddled at a low price, and let us not push people into buying tobacco on the black market because it is not acceptable to buy it openly. Tobacco will be sold. More than 31% of people who go into small shops do so to buy tobacco. Let us keep tobacco in the open so that it can be dealt with. Let us not ban vending machines but place them in positions where they must be sought out and are not immediately obvious when a customer goes into a shop. Let us not drive tobacco onto the black market and create a problem which will haunt us in the future.

We must reconsider the register of tobacco retailers and the penalties associated with this issue. We must also reconsider the Bill's provisions regarding vending machines. The sooner the legislation is put into effect the better but we must not be afraid to change some of the provisions in the Bill on which submissions are being made. This will give us a better Bill following its consideration.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Joe Higgins. I welcome the Bill in prin ciple – it is a positive development – but I have some serious reservations about its contents.

I could not help but notice that a number of speakers openly admitted that they were reformed smokers. It is always said that those who are most vehemently against smoking are reformed smokers and we heard a few of them this evening. It should be noted that the State promoted smoking 30 or 40 years ago in an effort to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis. People were encouraged to smoke to protect themselves from the disease when it was rampant in Ireland. We should be conscious of that. It may be said that the State has also come full circle and is now itself a reformed smoker. Perhaps that is the reason the legislation is being introduced now.

The legislation will cause huge problems for niche markets within the tobacco industry. I am speaking from a very parochial point of view as I am concerned about over 100 jobs at Villiger cigars in Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon. This establishment is part of a niche market and huge difficulties will ensue for small indigenous companies such as it. There will be no problem for the big names such as Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut, which have established names and labels, but the niche markets will experience huge difficulties in the future and jobs will be lost. We should be conscious of the possible loss of Irish jobs due to the introduction of this legislation. We would be naive to ignore that aspect.

In a few years, with the development of genetic engineering, new products with reduced tar or reduced detrimental effects will come onto the market. Smokers who are trying to give up or who want to give up to improve their lifestyles will not be aware of these products because of this legislation. Some mechanism will have to be introduced so that people can be made aware of new products which reduce the risk for those who cannot give up cigarettes. I foresee huge difficulties with the implementation of this legislation, which is one of the most archaic Bills I have seen. I hope, as Deputy McGuinness and Deputy Perry said earlier, that any changes or amendments made to it will endeavour to make the legislation practical and easily implemented. This would benefit everybody and meet the objectives that have been set down.

Section 43 of the Bill deals with the point of sale of tobacco products. Under this legislation cigarettes will have to be stored under the counter, which raises issues of health and safety and of costs for small retailers. It is estimated that it will cost a retailer approximately £6,000 to make these changes. Rather than having the retailer face the brunt of that, the tobacco companies should contribute. This point was made eloquently by previous speakers. A system should be brought in whereby the products remain where they are, covered up and where the public cannot see them, but the retailer can still access them. These cost implications will otherwise make the legislation difficult to implement. In practical terms it makes no difference whether the cigarettes are behind the counter or under it. If people cannot see them they will not know where they are. A small change such as this could be of benefit in terms of implementation.

Section 37 of the Bill deals with the registration of tobacco retailers. It is still not clear whether there is a once-off registration or an annual charge. It is important to clarify all these issues so that implementation is as easy as possible for retailers and everyone in the industry. If we make it difficult for people, the whole industry will be forced into the black market. A few days ago 80,000 cigarettes were found in County Louth and this is happening on a regular basis. Subversive organisations import cigarettes to fund themselves.

It will be mandatory under the new legislation for the tobacco control agency to remove offenders from the register for three months on conviction, regardless of any mitigating circumstances. There is no discretion allowed in this regard. In similar legislation concerned with alcohol, the courts make the final decision on matters of under-age drinking. The arguments for and against can be balanced, but that is not the case here. This legislation is much more draconian than the corresponding alcohol legislation. We should reconsider this and introduce practical measures to allow for an appeals mechanism which takes mitigating circumstances into account. We should also consider introducing the national ID card and the national age card. There is no point saying that a person must be over a certain age to purchase alcohol or cigarettes, with severe penalties in place, while not supporting the retailers by giving them the opportunity to distinguish between people who are breaking the law and those who are not.

Who will be an authorised officer? Will it be the tobacco control agency, the local health boards or a combination of both? This falling between two stools has arisen in the past in relation to other enforcement issues, where there are two separate organisations involved. It will lead to another tier of bureaucracy. Responsibility should be given to one organisation or the other, not to every organisation under the sun. The Bill should make reference to clearly defined roles. I compliment the Minister on his action on vending machines. A case was put forward about vending machines and the Minister listened and ensured that those measures could be easily implemented. I ask that the same type of measures be taken with regard to the controversial issues surrounding this legislation, to facilitate its implementation and to ensure it succeeds in its objective. If this legislation goes through as it stands, it will result in an immense cost for retailers and will not succeed in its objective.

Huge difficulties will surround the issue of advertising. All forms of advertising will now be banned, with certain exemptions, probably very few, which will be regulated by the Minister. However, Marlboro, for example, now has a clothing label. Will that be banned? What are the implications of this? That is just one example and it is certain that every other manufacturer will do exactly the same thing. Marlboro saw this coming and launched a range of clothes, with its own distinctive label, to promote cigarettes. Jordan cars display the logo Buzzing Hornets. Will advertising of this type now be banned? It does not show the emblem of the cigarette manufacturer, yet it is clearly distinguishable that Benson & Hedges cigarettes are being promoted. Issues such as this need to be considered; complications ensue when companies branch out into the clothing sector. This advertising needs to be looked at. The whole issue of these companies branching out into the clothing sector can lead to a complex situation.

Will the Minister look at this situation and ensure that practical measures are implemented to ensure the success of this Bill.

(Dublin West): On 11 September this year an atrocity carried out by a terrorist organisation killed upwards of 4,000 people in the United States. As a result, the US President and Administration unleashed a ferocious war on Afghanistan to hunt down those who are allegedly responsible. They are spending billions of dollars in that pursuit.

In the year 2001 in the United States 40 times the number killed, tragically and disastrously on 11 September will also be killed – but by lung cancer. According to research some 90% of the cancers which will kill between 160,000 to 170,000 people are caused by smoking.

What is the view and action of the political establishment in the United States? In the course of the presidential campaign some $8.3 million dollars was accepted in campaign contributions from big tobacco firms. World-wide, tobacco is an enormous business and accounts for some $40 billion of sales in the US every year.

Tobacco corporations are ruthless and, in the pursuit of profit they have destroyed millions of lives. They cheated and lied about the nature of their product and covered up the destructive capacities of this product. Long after they knew cigarettes were both addictive and highly destructive of people's health they continued to portray them as healthy and an activity to be envied and indulged in.

It is long overdue that strong action be taken in this State. In the initial part of the four and a half years I have been a Member of this House I greeted with derisory comments the pathetic attempts by the Government under the cover of the budget to pretend to do something about coming to grips with the smoking crisis here. A price increase was seen as the way to deal with this severe addiction and killer of people. It was a pathetic excuse and merely a cover to raise revenue. On a number of occasions I remarked how incredible it was that the Government was allegedly taking this measure of upping the price of cigarettes in the interests of health, but was not bringing in a prohibition on cigarette advertising at that time.

I am very glad things have changed and tobacco advertising is now banned. The whole question of alcohol advertising is now brought into very sharp relief by this debate. Alcohol is also a powerfully addictive drug and a killer of a significant number of people. It is a very destructive drug when abused. It is still allowed to be portrayed as a healthy, sexy, attractive kind of pursuit and it is high time the Government tackled this substance and considered a similar ban on advertising.

I am pleased to see section 38 proposes to ban cigarette-shaped confectioneries. A number of years ago I remonstrated with a local manager in my own area on this issue. They are attractively designed sweets which are freely sold to children. It is appalling that the manufacturers were cashing in subliminally on the advertising for cigarettes and getting children to buy them. This type of confectionery conditions young children towards smoking at a later stage and becoming addicted to nicotine. I fully support the measure of banning such confectionery.

Repression is clearly not the answer to the health crisis caused by smoking. Addiction is a very difficult thing to kick and we have to be sympathetic to those who are addicted. It is by education, information and encouragement in new and imaginative ways that we can convince those addicted to nicotine to give it up and to prevent new generations from becoming addicted.

In socially deprived areas where unemployment and poor housing has been a problem, nicotine addiction can exist at a very high level. In these areas cigarette smoking and addiction seems to be a compensation for the many difficulties and traumas people in such areas are experiencing. To overcome current addiction levels and prevent the spiralling of the problem we must promote a better life where people have choices, a better environment and healthier outlets.

The jobs of those working in the tobacco industry must be considered and, as with the armaments industry, it is a question of finding and planning alternatives. As cigarette consumption falls, I hope alternative employment will have begun to emerge.

The Bill does not appear to refer to Internet advertising, and this will have to be teased out on Committee Stage. In the US, it is said that in ten years Internet sales will account for one fifth of the annual sales of some $40 billion of cigarettes. Before I came into the House I went on the Internet and found many sites advertising cheap tobacco products. This could be a problem and we must begin to address it.

We should take a close look at the record of the big tobacco corporations in the Third World, in particular. It is an appalling fact that as the consciousness is being raised in the western world about the health effects on tobacco, they are directing more and more resources to making millions of poor people in the Third World addicted to their products. That is a shocking abuse by these companies.

Retailers and small shopkeepers should not be branded in any way. I do not favour prohibition and it is necessary to have outlets to cater for this. If they have legitimate claims on how the legislation should be implemented they should be heard provided they do not reduce the effectiveness of what is envisaged.

I propose to share my time with Deputy Matt Brennan and Deputy Michael Moynihan.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

It is probable that at some stage in our lives we have experimented with cigarettes. Until 20 years ago I smoked 80 cigarettes a day. When considering cigarettes and tobacco there is a need to look at what is happening in the world of tobacco advertising. The Minister is to be complimented for earlier action he took to deal with the problems of cigarette advertising. While his decision last year on a snooker tournament to be held in Dublin was criticised in the House, it was in the best interest of the wider public.

The number of people affected by nicotine related health problems is startling and frightening. Every day in this country, approximately 20 people die from tobacco related diseases, be it cancer, heart condition, strokes or whatever. If a similar number was to die on the road every day there would be public outrage. In view of this, the Minister is correct to deal with the dangers to the public of tobacco and tobacco related products.

Young people have always been subjected to pressures of various kinds, especially the peer pressure to smoke. The education system must address this. Schools, especially at second level, must explain to students the dangers and health problems that can be caused by smoking and the consumption of tobacco products.

Under-age smoking has always been a problem in this country. People are inclined to smoke in their early teenage years. It is highly desirable that an end be put to this. I hope the new regulations, when implemented, will help to prevent people from becoming addicted prior to being in a position to make a conscious decision on whether they wish to smoke to the detriment of their health.

Cigarette promotion has had a powerful impact, especially on those who sell products. For example, the tobacco industry has always been the main sponsor of Formula One racing. It must be better explained to the public that while Formula One racing might depend on sponsorship from the tobacco companies, it could well survive without it.

The need for education is vital. For example, there is a need to consider replicating the powerful television advertisements on the carnage on our roads resulting from road traffic accidents in terms of warning people of the dangerous impact tobacco can have on their health. This could be very useful.

I sympathise with aspects of the lobbying by retailers regarding the problems they envisage with the legislation. They argue that if they sell cigarettes to an under-age customer who appears to be 18 years or older they could lose the right to sell cigarettes for three months and be convicted of an offence. On Committee Stage there may be a need to consider the penalties with a view to allowing the courts have more discretion in these matters. The problem retailers will face on incidental aspects, such as displays and other facilities, can be addressed with a common sense approach by all sides. I expect that aspect to be dealt with.

We all understand the damage tobacco can inflict. For example, there is the environmental damage arising from passive smoking to which we are all subject every day, be it in pubs, on buses or whatever. There is a need to consider tighter controls on smoking in public places. Some argue this would adversely affect the pub trade and other businesses but I do not believe this will happen.

People are becoming more conscious of the need to protect their health. It is too late for those who realise that their health problems were self-inflicted through smoking or the consumption of alcohol. There is a need for greater education on the dangers of smoking and this should be especially directed at young people. A visit to any hospital in the country or consideration for our friends who have been the victims of smoking will demonstrate the dangers of smoking. It is futile to ask why they did not stop.

There is also a need for advertisements that make a frightening impact. The warnings on cigarette packs are insufficiently strong on their own, especially as far as young people are concerned. I appeal to the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for Education and Science, to embark on an education programme in second level schools to educate students on the danger of engaging in tobacco smoking and other substance abuse.

I thank Deputy Ellis for sharing his time. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important Bill and I compliment the Minister for introducing it. The impact of tobacco smoking on public health is frightening. There are approximately 7,000 deaths from smoking per annum in Ireland and life expectancy among smokers is lower than the norm.

The increased levels of smoking among young people, especially in and outside schools, is frightening. Greater efforts are required to educate children, especially in secondary schools, and to discourage them from taking up smoking. It is usually in school that the problem begins, when students may smoke because they believe it is cool to do so.

Young children are especially at risk from smoking and from the effects of passive smoking. Families who socialise are at risk, as are those who frequent pubs. Many pubs do not have adequate ventilation or extractors and in such cases the impact of passive smoking can be especially severe.

While some people smoke to relax, for example, when they are in cars, addiction can take hold, especially among the very young. Although advertising is no longer so extensive, it is still very prevalent in motor racing where advertising hoardings are on prominent display in television broadcasts. I knew the owner of a small pub in a rural area who never smoked but, when he became ill and went to his doctor, he was told he had the appearance of a man who smoked 40 cigarettes a day. That man died from lung cancer, despite the fact that he never smoked a cigarette in his life. All public houses should have some form of extractor so their customers need not be affected by passive smoking. That is just one example. Our hospitals are filled with people suffering from smoke related illnesses, including lung cancer, respiratory complaints and heart disease. There would be many empty wards were it not for the fact that so many people smoke. We would also have a much healthier and fitter people if we could get rid of tobacco addiction. I had two brothers much younger than I, both of whom had bypass operations as a result of smoking related diseases. Thank God I did not need such an operation, having smoked very little in my younger days. It is a salutary experience to be told by a surgeon that if one had not been a smoker, one would not have had need of his services.

The Garda is to be complimented on its recent success in intercepting massive quantities of smuggled cigarettes intended for sale on our streets and particularly to our young people, with consequently increased addiction to smoking. Cigarette smoking is, in my view, a bad habit. The experience of attending meetings and functions in smoke filled rooms is most unpleasant, particularly for non-smokers. I am glad that smoking is now prohibited on much of our public transport services.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. Other speakers have referred to their personal situation as smokers or non-smokers. Unfortunately, I continue to smoke, despite my best efforts to give it up. A number of speakers have referred to the question of discouraging young people from smoking. I welcome the provisions of the Bill in that regard. We have to address the issue of peer pressure and how to get the message across in primary and secondary schools with regard to the damage to health and fitness which is caused by smoking. My father has told me of his experience in national school some 65 years ago. His teacher explained the damage caused by smoking by lighting a cigarette, blowing the smoke through a clean handkerchief and pointing out the deposits of tar on the handkerchief as an indication of the accumulated damage to a person's lungs as a result of regular smoking. However, we do not seem to be getting the message across to our young people, as evidenced by the number of them who are to be seen smoking in pubs, discos and night-clubs throughout the country on any Friday or Saturday night. Obviously, it is very difficult to sell the message as to the damage which smoking causes.

During the debate, I thought about what it is that triggers the smoking habit in a person. Perhaps it is being in a certain place at a certain time and in an environment in which the product is available. Some people become very seriously addicted to the point where they can barely survive without a fag. Their rights also have to be accepted if they are not interfering with the health of others, in terms of passive smoking. Perhaps, as a result of this and other relevant legislation, smoking will become socially less acceptable over a period of time. However, in the case of a certain percentage of people who seriously depend on smoking, some leeway should be allowed to them.

Retailers are very worried about this Bill and the existing rules and regulations and perhaps they have a case to make. The introduction of a national ID card for people under 16 should make it easier for retailers to deal with the situation. The permitted extent of cigarette advertising has been substantially reduced in recent years on television, billboards and elsewhere. Tobacco advertising in relation to sporting activities such as motor racing and snooker has also been phased down. Despite all that, young people appear to be subject to the same pressures as before and the message is still not getting across. If it requires a compulsory programme in primary and secondary schools to get the message across, then that route may have to be followed.

I support the Minister's proposals and, without having anything particularly new to add, I will at least help to keep the Minister in the House until 10 p.m.

I listened with interest to the contributions of previous speakers. However, I was most impressed by that of Deputy McGahon which, I accept, drifted somewhat from the substance of the Bill. While the Deputy placed on record his strong support for the legislation, he took the opportunity – I also intend to do so – to remind us that while we are now making ongoing and perhaps more effective efforts to reduce tobacco consumption in this country, we do not appear to be making the same strides in respect of the problem of alcohol consumption. There is no doubt that smoking causes many deaths and the statistics speak for themselves in that regard. The Minister indicated that almost 7,000 people die here each year as a result of smoking related illnesses.

The Minister of State will be aware of the frightening statistics relating to alcohol consumption. I regret to say that, as a society, we appear to be moving increasingly towards a situation where alcohol is becoming the only form of entertainment for people. It is disappointing that Irish people appear to be unable to enjoy themselves or partake in entertainment of any sort without imbibing alcohol. While the statistics relating to smoking are dreadful – the figure of 7,000 deaths per annum is inexcusable – and there is an undoubted need to tackle and, hopefully, remedy the problem, the statistics relating to alcohol consumption are equally bad. It is not simply a question of lives being lost – I am not in a position to provide figures with regard to the number of deaths per annum caused by alcohol consumption – we must recognise that the level of misery being generated in families as a result of excessive alcohol consumption is a problem of enormous proportions which requires more serious attention from the Government. It is politically correct to refer to the evils of smoking and to put in place strong legislation to try to reduce the numbers of people who smoke. However, it does not seem as politically correct or as popular to invest the same kind of efforts into tackling the scourge of alcohol. I hope the Minister of State and her colleagues in Government, in their remaining months in office, will make renewed efforts to place the problem of alcohol at the top of the agenda.

Ireland might not be leading any soccer, economic or tourism leagues in Europe but it is certainly top of the league as far as alcohol consumption is concerned, a fact of which we should be ashamed not proud. This matter needs the most urgent and immediate attention of the Government. I concur with what Deputy McGahon stated earlier. While it is great to see the Government putting in place a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and making every effort to stem the tide in relation to smoking, the same efforts are not being made in terms of tackling the problems caused by alcohol.

A number of speakers referred to the powerful, proactive advertising campaigns employed by tobacco companies. However, these pale into insignificance when compared to the effective advertising campaigns utilised by alcohol companies. Deputy Michael Moynihan referred to the difficulties in encouraging young people to stop smoking or in preventing them from taking up the habit. I agree with him that this will be an enormous task, however encouraging them to either reduce the level of alcohol they consume or to not drink at all will be an even greater task. I hope the Minister of State and her colleagues are giving serious consideration to this matter.

With regard to the legislation before us, I served for a short period on the Joint Committee on Health and Children, chaired by Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, which was, at that stage, drawing up reports on tobacco. It has since issued a substantial report and it would be a major step forward if many of the recommendations contained therein could be implemented. The question of advertising tobacco products gave rise to many discussions among members of the committee and I believe the Government is moving very much in the right direction in respect of that matter. I hope the Bill will at least begin to stem the tide.

I agree with the individual measures being proposed in the Bill. However, I agree with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Perry in respect of the practicalities surrounding the restrictions relating to the sale of tobacco products. While I welcome the fact that the controls are being tightened, there is a certain level beyond which we should not go. Our task should be to try to encourage people not to buy cigarettes. A person who wishes to purchase cigarettes will certainly do so, whether they get them from a shelf which can or cannot be seen. It has taken generations for this problem to reach its current stage and it will take at least one generation to solve it. The solution will only come about when people no longer wish to purchase cigarettes. I hope the regulations, particularly as they apply to smaller shopkeepers, will be put in place in such a way that they will be practical and workable. We do not want another Irish solution to an Irish problem where the law will say one thing while people will do something else in practice. I hope a balance can be achieved in that regard.

I welcome the legislation as a practical step forward. In my opinion it will make a difference. I hope the ban on advertising will, in some way, dim the lights in so far as the attractiveness of smoking is concerned. I also hope that the much greater scourge on our society, alcohol, will be tackled in a much more strident, proactive fashion. That scourge is leaving a permanent scar on society. The image of the drunken stage Irishman and Irishwoman was all right for a laugh, but the laughter has ceased and alcohol consumption has become a serious problem which requires urgent attention.

Tá lúcháir orm deis a bheith agam cúpla focal a rá faoin mBille tábhachtach seo, a mbeidh tionchar aige ar shaol na tíre. Tá súil agam go mbeidh tionchar chun sochar aige ar shláinte na tíre. Tá a fhios againn go léir, agus tá sé ráite go minic anseo ó cuireadh an Bille os comhair an Tí, an dochar agus an díobháil a thig le tobac a dhéanamh do shláinte fhisiciúil na ndaoine agus do shláinte eacnamaíochta na ndaoine chomh maith.

Nuair a bhí mé i mo shuí ansin ag éisteacht leis na cainteoirí eile, smaoinigh mé gur chualamar nuair a bhíomar ag dul chun na scoile na blianta ó shin go bhfuil sé beagnach 500 bliain ó tugadh an tobac go hÉirinn don chéad uair. Duine a bhí ina chónaí i gCorcaigh a thug cuairt ar an domhan úr a thug anseo é. Cuirtear ina leith gurbh é Sir Walter Raleigh a thug an tobac go hÉirinn. Deirtear gur thug sé na prataí go hÉirinn chomh maith. Bainimid go léir tairbhe agus taitneamh agus sólás éigin as na prátaí ach ní féidir an rud céanna a rá faoin tobac.

Tá sé de nós le fada agus tá sé faiseanta go breá, go speisialta ins na blianta a chuaigh thart, duine a fheiceáil agus toitín, nó píopa, nó totóg nó rud éigin eile aige. Is beag duine againn nár chaith toitín nó tobac am éigin. Nuair a bhíomar uilig inár bpáistí scoile ba mhór an rud dul amach agus toitíní a cheannach i ngan fhios agus iad a chaitheamh i ngan fhios. Sa pháirt den tír a dtagaimse as, bíonn faire againn nuair a fhaigheann duine bás. In áiteanna eile labhartar faoi teach tórraimh ach tugaimidne teach faire air. Bhíodh fonn orainn uilig a bheith ins an teach faire go maidin mar go mbíodh toitíní ar fáil, a oiread agus gur féidir a chaitheamh. Tá cuimhne agam uair amháin a bheith i mo shuí go maidin i dteach faire agus dul chun na scoile an lá arna mhárach agus a bheith íontach tinn ar fad. Shíl mo mháthair go raibh mé i mo shuí i rith na hoíche agus gurb shin an fáth go raibh mé tinn ach is é an fáth go raibh mé tinn ná go raibh an oiread sin toitíní caite agam. B'fhéidir gurb shin an rud ab fhearr a tharla ariamh, mar thig liom a rá nár chaith mé morán acu ina dhiaidh sin.

Cuireann an tobac isteach ar shláinte na ndaoine. Tá figiúirí agus staitisticí tugtha ins an Teach le cupla lá ó cuireadh an Bille seo ós ár gcomhair. Is uafásach an rud é go bhfaigheann 7,000 bás ins an tír seo gach bliain le galair a fhaigheann siad ó chaitheamh tobac, idir galar chroí, plúchadh agus, níos measa ná sin, ailse. Deirtear go bhfaigheann 2,000 duine bás gach bliain de bharr ailse na scamhóige, ceann de na hailsí is deacra a láimhseáil agus a leigheas. Is mó duine óg atá i measc na ndaoine sin agus is beag teaghlach sa tír nach bhfuil duine éigin breoite, nó marbh, ann de bharr ailse nó galar éigin eile a tháinig ón tobac. Sin an fáth go chuirim fáilte mhór roimh an mBille seo. B'fhéidir nach dtéann sé fada go leor ach ar aon nós, céim ar aghaidh atá ann.

Nuair a bhím ag tiomáint ar fud na tíre idir seo agus Tír Chonaill, feicim na scoláire, cuid acu chomh hóg le 13 d'aois, amuigh ag am lóin agus toitíní á gcaitheamh acu. Deirim liom féin gur mór an trua nach bhfuil níos mó céille ag na daoine óga sin, ag déanamh dochair dá sláinte agus ag cur airgid amú. Cén dóigh gur féidir linn dul i bhfeidhm ar na daoine óga agus cur in iúil dóibh go bhfuil siad ag déanamh dochair mór dóibh féin? Ní leor a rá leo go bhfaighidh siad ailse nó galar croí ó bheith ag caitheamh. Ní chuimhníonn daoine óga ar a leithéid. Caithfear teacht ar an fhadhb ar dhóigh éigin eile. B'fhéidir go gcaithfear é a dhéanamh tríd an scoil. Ní fiú an luach a chur suas mar fiú amháin nuair a chuirtear an luach suas faightear an t-airgead in áit éigin.

Is droch rud é réaltóga scannáin agus daoine galánta a fheiceáil ins na hirisleabhair dathúla agus iad ag caitheamh, mar cothaíonn sé seo an íomhá gur rud breá é a bheith ag caitheamh toitíní. Caithfimid díriú isteach air sin agus cosc a chur le fógraíocht den chineál sin. Is céim ar aghaidh mhór é nach bhfuil fógraíocht tobac ar an teilifís, ar an raidió nó ar na meáin cumarsáide a thagann faoi bhráid an Stáit. Mar sin féin, tá an fhógraíocht le feiceáil in áiteanna eile. Tá an fhógraíocht seo ceangailte go mór le cúrsaí spóirt. Thagair an Teachta Bradford do na rásaí gluaisteán agus do na comhlachtaí móra ar nós Marlboro a thugann tacaíocht don spórt sin. Ceanglaíonn daoine óga an spórt agus an tobac le chéile agus an chéad rud eile, tá siad ag caitheamh. Caithfimid díriú isteach air sin chomh maith.

Níl a fhios agam cén focal Gaeilge atá ar "passive smoking"? B'fhéidir go mbeidh sé ag an Aire Stáit nuair a bheidh sí ag tabhairt freagra. Na blianta ó shin nuair a bhí gluaisteán agam don chéad uair, nior chuir sé isteach nó amach orm duine a bheith ag caitheamh in aice liom sa charr. Ach anois, cuireann sé isteach orm nuair a bhíonn duine istigh i mo charr ag caitheamh toitíní. Ní hamháin go mbíonn an boladh ins an charr ach bíonn sé ar mo chuid éadaí chomh maith. Tá sé de nós ag daoine nuair a théann siad chun deoch a ól i dteach tábhairne toitín a lasadh, agus bíonn gach duine eile, cé acu atá siad ag caitheamh nó nach bhfuil, ag sú isteach an ghail agus é ag déanamh dochair dóibh ins na blianta amach rompu. Luaigh an Teachta Ó Braonáin tábhairneoir a raibh aithne aige air, nár chaith toitín ariamh ach a chaith a shaol ag obair i dteach tábhairne agus a fuair bás le hailse scamhóige. Is léiriú é seo ar an dochar a thig le tobac a dhéanamh, fiú amháin do dhuine nach bhfuil ag caitheamh é féin.

Tá costas eacnamaíochta leis an tobac chomh maith. Cosnaíonn 20 toitín thart ar £4. Cosnaíonn sé thart ar £30 sa tseachtain – £1,500 sa bhliain – ar dhuine ar bith atá ag caitheamh 20 toitín sa lá. Is mór an cháin í sin ar líon tí. Agus is minic a thagann na daoine a bhíonn ag caitheamh ón aicme is lú a bhfuil airgead acu agus is lú atá ábalta costas mar sin a chur orthu féin.

Cuireann an tobac isteach ar shláinte na ndaoine agus ar eacnamaíocht na dteaghlaigh agus déanann sé dochar don timpeallacht chomh maith. Sin iad na fáthanna a chuirim fáilte roimh an mBille. B'fhéidir nach dtéann sé fada go leor. Ní shílim go raibh uchtach ag an Aire díriú isteach ar chaitheamh tobac in áiteanna poiblí cosúil le bialanna agus tithe tábhairne agus sin rud a chaithfear a dhéanamh. Dúirt an t-Aire go mbeidh sé ag cuartú rialacha a thabhairt isteach a bhaineann le tithe tábhairne ins an am atá amach romhainn. Is mór an trua nach bhfuil sé níos soiléire ins an mBille cad é atá sé ag iarraidh a dhéanamh. Tá an ceangal idir an deoch agus na toitíni. Téann an dá rud le chéile. Caithfear rud éigin a dhéanamh chomh maith mar gheall ar fhógraíocht dí. Tá rialacha tugtha isteach maidir le fógraíocht tobac ach níor thugamar aghaidh ar chúrsaí i gceart go fóill.

Molaim an Bille, chomh fada agus a théann sé. D'fhéadfadh sé dul níos faide. Tá tíortha eile ins an domhan a bhfuil rialacha i bhfad níos déine acu. Tá na comhlachtaí móra tobac ag imeacht ón domhain forbartha agus ag cur a gcuid táirgí go dtí an tríú domhan. Feicfimid toradh an tobac agus na galair a théann leis ins an tríú domhan ins na blianta amach romhainn.

Níl an fhadhb fuascailte againn féin go fóill. Má dhéanann an Bille seo aon rud chun aire níos fearr a thabhairt do shláinte na ndaoine is fiú tacaíocht a thabhairt dó.

Nach breá an rud a bheith i mo shuí anseo ag éisteacht le daoine ag rá dea-rudaí faoi reachtaíocht atá ag dul tríd an dá Theach. Bhí sé soléir ón méid a bhí le rá ag an-chuid daoine ó gach phairtí, go bhfáiltíonn Baill an Tí roimh na tuairimí ginearálta sa reachtaíocht. Ina ainneoin sin beidh Baill ag moladh leasaithe nuair a pléitear an Bille ar Chéim an Choiste. Deir an t-Aire go bhfáilteoidh sé roimh na leasaithe sin agus go mbeidh sé ag éisteacht go géar agus go cruinn leo nuair a pléifear an Bille os comhair an choiste ag tús na bliana seo chugainn.

Ba dheas freisin a bheith ag éisteacht leis an Teachta McGinley ag insint dúinn faoi Sir Walter Raleigh agus faoi na dea-rudaí agus na droch-rudaí a rinne sé, ní hamháin gur thug sé na prátaí dúinn ach an tobac chomh maith. Nach eisean a leag a bhrat faoi chosa na Banríona Éilíse? Caithfimid cuimhneamh go bhfuil cáil air de bharr rud eile a dhéanamh seachas a bheith dea-bhéasach do na mná. Is féidir smaoineamh air i slite difriúla.

It also struck me that I have not ever before heard in a debate so many people declare an interest in the topic being debated. I am not sure whether Members have to declare in their declarations of interest if they are or are not smokers but almost every speaker in this debate declared whether they were smokers, non-smokers or former smokers. Each of them also welcomed the Bill.

I am vehemently opposed to smoking. I seem to spend my time trying to get my father, Senator Hanafin, not to smoke because of his heart condition. It got to the stage where, shortly after one of his heart surgeries, while he denied blankly to my face that he had been smoking, the pocket of his dressing gown went on fire from the cigarette inside it. That is just one example of the lengths to which smokers will go.

The hugely detrimental effect it has on people's health was a recurring theme of the contributions. It is something of which everybody is conscious. The Government is anxious to implement its policy on smoking, contained in the report "Towards a Tobacco Free Society". It is one of a number of reports on smoking and health which have been published in recent years and some of its elements are incorporated in the Bill. The two reports of the sub-committee of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children on health and smoking and the reports of the cardiovascular health strategy group are also reflected in the legislation.

Like a number of speakers, my interest is in addiction among young people, particularly teenage girls. In my teaching days, I noticed it was a particular problem. I do not know whether it was for image or weight purposes or if the pressure on girls from advertising, not of cigarettes but of the type of image to which they aspired, caused them to smoke. Young people see themselves as invincible; they do not believe they will die or be ill as a result of smoking. They do not see it as something they should avoid.

Recent advertising campaigns try to counter that image, particularly one I launched last year for the Eastern Regional Health Authority, which focuses on young teenage girls and tries to indicate to them that smoking causes bad breath, bad smell and bad skin. I look forward to the strengthening of the ban on advertising and, particularly, the strong enforcement elements of the Bill. They convey a message to the public.

Each speaker acknowledged that smoking is a public health issue. It is a public health issue when it causes 7,000 deaths each year in Ireland and when people suffer from a range of different illnesses and diseases. Smoking is dangerous and socially unacceptable. Each Deputy called for it to be made even less attractive for young people. They are also anxious that consumption is controlled and that we help smokers to stop smoking. Obviously, if we prevent young people from starting to smoke, the job will be easier down the road.

Many people have contributed to this Bill in various ways, through their reports and their work on the sub-committee and in the Department. We are faced with many challenges in improving the health status of our people. Smoking and the effects of smoking place an unacceptable burden on the health and wellbeing of the nation and we must take effective measures across a wide range of areas to remedy that. We have the facts about addiction and we must ensure that we prevent, control and help it. There are various methods of doing it and this legislation will give a strong basis to our efforts to achieve a tobacco free society.

It will require a co-ordinated national effort. On Committee Stage, Members will give serious consideration to all elements of the Bill from the point of view of the consumer, the advertiser, the shopkeeper and the enforcement regulations. Only a national co-ordinated effort will work. Only then will we get the results we desire. Ta súil againn go mbeimid tar éis an suíomh agus an timpeallacht a athrú de bharr na smaointí atá á nochtú againn inniu i leith an tobac.

Go raibh maith ag na Teachtaí go léir a labhair ar an ábhar seo. The Minister will be open to giving a fair hearing to any amendments proposed on Committee Stage.

Question put and agreed to.