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November 29, 2004

-- Opinion --

Irish smoke ban clears the air

By Marese Heffernan

Have you ever walked into an enclosed space — maybe a bar, a restaurant or even your school bathrooms — and been struck by the overwhelming stench of smoke?

Have you ever found yourself coughing and gasping for air because of it? Have you ever tried to clear the revolting smell from your clothes?

I have, but luckily, here in Ireland, it doesn’t happen anymore.

It’s all thanks to the new smoking ban introduced in Ireland last March. The ban makes it illegal to smoke in any enclosed workplaces like bars, shops or offices.

Ireland was the first European country to impose this law, and I am extremely glad that it did.

Many people had strong doubts about the law before it was introduced, especially bartenders who feared that their sales would dwindle if people couldn’t smoke.

Of course, most smokers were entirely opposed to the idea, but for non-smokers, this law was a godsend.

Certainly, to many of the teenagers I know, the new law is a stroke of luck. We now have one less health issue to worry about.

Eight months since the law took effect, the results are clear.

One can now walk through any cafe or restaurant without feeling suffocated and vulnerable to sickness.

The smoking ban has also stopped many students from lighting up in schools.

While most schools never allowed smoking anyway, now anyone who is found smoking on school premises — students or teachers — must be reported to the Health Board.

That means it is not just against the school rules to smoke in schools, it is against the law. Instead of being given a small punishment by a teacher, the school is obligated by Irish law to report the perpetrator to the Board.

So far, from what I can see, the ban has been very successful.

I have not yet seen anyone break the law and I feel that I am now living in a fresher and more just country.

After all, just because some people want to ruin their health, why should the rest of us suffer?

A similar smoking ban will soon be enforced in the United Kingdom, though it will not be nearly as strict as in Ireland.

People will still be allowed to smoke in bars which don’t serve food, and nightclubs get a choice as to whether they want to impose the ban or not.

I think that the more countries that introduce this law, the better.

Everyone benefits from it, and it only makes sense that more countries should follow Ireland’s lead.

 

 

 

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