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|EU health chief wants smoking banned in all pubs
The EU health commissioner says he would support a European Union-wide ban on smoking ban in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants.
David Byrne said said his officials are working to bring forward a policy which he hopes will lead to the drafting of legislation.
Legal action against bar or restaurant bosses over smoking is "simply a matter of time", he warned.
Mr Byrne, interviewed on the EUpolitix.com website, said: "There is clear evidence now that there is a correlation between passive smoking and health-related responses like disease.
"If that is the case, then the adoption of measures to prevent the exposure of the public to tobacco and the effects of tobacco is desirable.
"Therefore the logic of that is, the less smoking there is in public, in public places, the better. So I would support measures that move in that direction."
Mr Byrne said he did not have a timescale. "We are working together on this and I would hope that will lead to the drafting of legislation in the normal way."
When he was told he would be "a brave man" to introduce legislation to ban smoking in EU bars and restaurants, he replied: "I know that traditions and cultures differ.
"One must always be sensitive respecting different cultural traditions and I always seek to try and do that when I'm contemplating policies and bringing forward objectives.
"But when you are dealing with something fundamental like health, you have to try and see to what extent you can change opinion."
He added: "Anybody who holds the post of commissioner for health of the European Union, if he fails to promote policy against tobacco, he is failing in his duty and is negligent in his tasks. It seems to me to be an obvious policy response for me to engage myself with these issues."