A Co Mayo man has become the first taxi driver in the country to be fined for smoking in his vehicle. Peter Edwards, from Rathkip, was caught smoking by a health service inspector at a taxi rank in Ballina last February. He pleaded guilty to breaching the smoking ban yesterday and was ordered to pay €250 to the Irish Cancer Society and €300 in costs incurred by the Health Services Executive.
Related archived article from Nov-2003
In order to support taxi drivers in their efforts to enforce no smoking in
their vehicles, the Environmental Health Department of the Midland Health
Board presented Mattie Egerton of the National Taxi Drivers Union, with 'No
Smoking' air fresheners bearing the Midland Health Board logo.
Under the Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) Regulations 1995, it is illegal for both the passenger and the driver to smoke in a taxi. Responsibility lies with the taxi driver to ensure that his vehicle is smoke free and to display no smoking signs. Currently, the penalty for a taxi driver allowing smoking to occur is €635, and for the individual who smokes is €127. These penalties are set to rise however with the introduction of the new Tobacco Smoking (Prohibition) Regulations 2003, which was to come into effect in February 2004. The fine for the driver and the passenger now rises to €1900.
Efforts have been made by many taxi drivers to eliminate smoking, but the co-operation of the public is required and customers must take responsibility and realise that smoking in a taxi is not acceptable and leaves himself as well as the taxi driver liable to prosecution.
Existing legislation which bans smoking in certain places eg cinemas, bingo halls, schools, a section of the seating area in restaurants, taxis etc., will be considerably strengthened by the introduction of the new Tobacco Smoking (Prohibition) Regulations 2003 which will extend the smoking ban to new locations. This measure has been taken by Minister for Health, Michael Martin TD in light of scientific evidence presented to him in a study undertaken by the Office of Tobacco Control and the Health and Safety Authority. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Ireland, and each year about 6000 people die prematurely from diseases caused by tobacco smoke. Ill-effects among workers who are non-smokers exposed to smoking in the workplace include an increased risk of heart disease and an increased risk of lung cancer.