Home > Protection of Children's Health (tobacco smoke in mechanically propelled vehicles) Bill 2012: Report and final stages.

[Oireachtas] Protection of Children's Health (tobacco smoke in mechanically propelled vehicles) Bill 2012: Report and final stages. (18 Dec 2014)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Bill received for final consideration.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly):  I am genuinely delighted to be here, one week before Christmas, to complete this legislation's journey through the Houses. One of the best Christmas presents we can give our children is to protect their health and well-being. This important Bill goes some way towards that. I thank the Senators who brought this Private Member’s Bill to the Oireachtas, and all the Senators and Deputies who so positively supported the legislation throughout the legislative process.

Protecting children from harmful tobacco products has long been a priority for me as Minister for Health and now in my current role as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. I supported this legislation when it was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill, developed by Senators Crown, van Turnhout and Daly.

In June 2012 I received Government approval for the principle of prohibiting smoking in cars with children present and for the drafting of amendments to the Private Member’s Bill. Those amendments were made and accepted. I thank all those involved in this process in the Office of the Attorney General, the Departments of Justice and Equality, Transport Tourism and Sport and in particular An Garda Síochána. The purpose of the Bill is simple: it will prohibit smoking in cars where children are present. It will be enforced by An Garda Síochána. It will bring about a cultural change whereby we will all seek to protect our children.

Environmental tobacco smoke is a carcinogen. It contains the same cancer-causing substances and toxic agents that are inhaled by the smoker. There is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke. Compared with adults, children breathe more rapidly and have a less developed immune system. They are more susceptible to the effects of second hand smoke. They are unable to remove themselves from risk if people smoke around them. Children’s exposure to second hand smoke in cars is involuntary and is particularly harmful to them in enclosed spaces such as cars. Parents and others with responsibility for the welfare of children have an obligation to ensure that such exposure does not take place. This legislation is a reminder to people not to light up in a car with children present. Where people disregard this reminder it will serve as a punitive measure. I reiterate this legislation is to protect children not to penalise smokers. In order for it to commence it requires the development of regulations. It will also have to be incorporated into the operating systems of An Garda Síochána. Officials will work with An Garda Síochána and other relevant Departments to put these arrangements in place as soon as possible. I commend the Bill to the House.

 Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: A message shall be sent to the Seanad acquainting it accordingly.

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