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Smoking ban to be extended to outdoor dining areas

It may soon be illegal in Ireland to smoke in any outdoor areas where food is being served.

Legislation has been proposed to the cabinet that would see the smoking ban extended to any outdoor areas of restaurants, cafes and pubs where customers are eating.

Former Minister for Health James Reilly was one of the Fine Gael senators who tabled a private members bill in the Oireachtas calling on Simon Harris to enact the new legislation.

Reilly said that smoking outdoors still poses a health risk to those around you and added that customers who wish to enjoy their meals outdoors should be entitled to do so without having to breathe second-hand smoke.

He also said it was important to protect children from second-hand smoke, arguing that they should not be allowed to see the habit as being normalised.

The smoking ban was first introduced in Ireland in 2004 and made it illegal to smoke indoors in a workplace, including pubs and restaurants. The scope of the ban has been gradually widened since then and smoking is now also prohibited in education facilities and on all public transport. Most recently it was made illegal to smoke in a car with young children.

The proposed legislation is the latest step in the government’s plan to make Ireland tobacco free by 2025. Recent figures have shown a sharp decrease in the number of smokers around the country, especially among teenagers and young people, with the smoking ban held up as a key factor in that decline.

Other factors, such as the steady increase in the price of cigarettes, changes to packaging to show the ill-effects of smoking, and increased public awareness of the risk posed by tobacco have also been credited with the falling rates.

No firm time-frame has been set for the new legislation but campaigners are eager to see smoke-free outdoor dining areas in the near future.

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