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Press Release

Press release

HRB welcomes Government action on findings of Report on Health Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke

8 February 2003

The HRB welcomes the decision of Mr Micheál Martin, the Minister for Health and Children and Mr Frank Fahey, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to act on the findings of a new report on the health effects of environmental tobacco smoke.

The HRB welcomes the decision of Mr Micheál Martin, the Minister for Health and Children and Mr Frank Fahey, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to act on the findings of a new report on the health effects of environmental tobacco smoke. The authors of the Report, an independent scientific group * were commissioned by the Health and Safety Authority and the Office for Tobacco Control, to 'identify and report on the degree of consensus that exists among leading international scientific authorities on the question of the hazard and risk posed by environmental tobacco smoke to human health in the workplace'. Reviewing the evidence, the authors found that environmental tobacco smoke;

  • is carcinogenic and causes lung cancer and probably other cancers
  • causes heart disease
  • causes respiratory problems in adults and children
  • has adverse effects on reproduction, including low weight babies
  • Employee exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is likely to be higher and more sustained than in the home environment
  • Current ventilation technology is inefficient at removing the risk of environmental tobacco smoke to health

The authors concluded that employees need to be protected from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke at work and that legislative measures are required to give this protection.

Responding to the Report, Minister Martin and Minister Fahey announced that legislation would be introduced to extend the ban on smoking in the workplace to prohibit smoking in the hospitality sector, to take effect early in 2004.

The Report is available at www.has.ie and www.otc.ie

*The authors are:

  • Dr Shane Allwright, (Chairperson) Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, TCD
  • Dr James P McLaughlin, Radiation/Aerosol Physicist, UCD
  • Dr Dan Murphy, Director of Occupational Medical Services, Health and Safety Authority
  • Dr Iona Pratt, Chief Specialist in Toxicology, Food Safety Authority of Ireland
  • Professor Michael Ryan, Professor of Pharmacology, UCD
  • Dr Alan Smith, Specialist Registrar in Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Public Health, RCPI
  • Brenda Guihen, Health and Safety Authority, Secretary to the Group

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