Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (247)

Conor Lenihan

Question:

325 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the way in which he intends to implement the smoking ban on the ground in terms of enforcement; and if additional staff or resources are being given to the task by the health boards. [6962/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

A national public information campaign, entitled Smoke-Free at Work, will be rolled out across TV, radio and print media. In addition, a series of print materials for workplaces, employees and the general public will be available over the coming weeks and these will be available on-line at the new Smoke-Free at Work website. The campaign will provide guidance and information to all sectors of society in preparation for 29 March. Information will also be available on-line from the Office of Tobacco Control and the Health and Safety Authority websites. A memorandum of understanding has been agreed by the two agencies which will help to ensure compliance with the new measure.

Workplace locations traditionally visited by the Health and Safety Authority will now also have to comply with the new smoke-free measure as part of their general compliance with health and safety requirements. Monitoring compliance with the smoke-free requirements in the food and hospitality area will be carried out by officers from health boards and the Office of Tobacco Control. Health boards with vacancies in their established environmental health officer complements in the tobacco control area are in the process of filling these posts. The emphasis of the campaign will be on compliance building and harnessing the widespread public support and goodwill that exists for a smoke-free environment.

Adapting to the new measure will require some adjustment, particularly for those in workplaces which up to now have not benefited from the existing statutory controls on the smoking of tobacco products. I am confident that people will adjust, just as they did when cinemas, theatres, hairdressing salons, aeroplanes and numerous other settings became smoke-free. The trade union movement is strongly supportive and I am encouraged by the willingness shown by employers' organisations in the various sectors in recommending compliance with the new measure to their members. Most people are law-abiding and responsible and I expect that the vast majority of employers, employees and the public will respect this important new public health measure.

Questions Nos. 326 and 327 answered with Question No. 303.